Senior advocate PS Narasimha, the amicus curiae assisting the Supreme Court in the BCCI matter who on Thursday was given the additional charge of a mediator, will have to hear at least 82 pending applications pertaining to the implementation of the Justice RM Lodha reforms.
Several state associations, former BCCI office-bearers, and even a few individual members had approached the Supreme Court objecting to various issues relating to Indian cricket’s monumental churning. While some argued that the implementation of the Lodha reforms amounts to the violation of Article 19 (1) (C) that gives citizens the rights to form associations, others have complained about the delay in the release of funds by court-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA). There is also an application that states that while the apex court had asked the state units to adopt a constitution that was on ‘similar lines’ to that of the BCCI, the CoA has interpreted it as ‘mirror image’.
There are also allegations that the lack of funds has resulted in the Maharashtra Cricket Association (MCA) being declared a non-performing asset (NPA) with the banks taking symbolic possession of the cricket stadium in Pune over a loan default. MCA honorary secretary Riyaz Bagwan said the association had written to the CoA several times but there has been no response till date.
“We had written so many emails to COA pleading to release our funds. Everyone is aware of what Maharashtra Cricket Association is going through. We don’t have money to run cricket at all. We have managed somehow until now. Because we don’t have money, our district tournament hasn’t started now. We start our district tournament by this month every year and wind it up by May, but because we don’t have any money, we can’t play district games now. Cricket has been badly hampered here,” Bagwan told The Indian Express.
A top official of the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association talked about the problems they face. “As for the lack of funds, it is hampering us because we are hardly left with any money now. Our normal cricket expenditure in a year is around Rs 20 crore. We have almost exhausted it. We are barely left with Rs 4-5 crore. In a couple of months, salaries will stop if it goes like this,” the official told this newspaper.
“The original TNCA petition doesn’t talk about the release of funds. But (last week), we have given a letter to the amicus asking to consider the release of funds, because it is hampering our development activities,” the official said.
There are also a few associations who don’t want to give voting rights to cricketers as the state doesn’t have any individual voting rights. The Baroda Cricket Association wants to change the rule that states that a member who will be part of the Apex Council should have been part of a committee in the past.
Veteran administrator of Saurashtra Cricket Association Niranjan Shah welcomed the decision of the Supreme Court as he felt CoA members are neither in the mood to hold an election nor releasing state associations’ money to run cricket.
The CoA, though, claimed they paid vendors directly whenever any games are being played but Shah raised the case of district games which have been hit badly in the last two years. Shah said the CoA should have held the BCCI election as per Lodha Committee’s recommendations or at least allowed the state associations to form a new body that is fully compliant with the Supreme Court order.
“We want SCA funds to be released as we have complied with the Lodha Committee recommendations. We wrote to the CoA so many times but not a single reply has come till date. Our point is simple: as per the Supreme Court order, each association had to adopt Lodha Committee’s recommendations, which we did. So if we have complied, why should BCCI not release our money? It’s two years since BCCI has given our dues. We have even asked if we can hold election of SCA as we have adopted Lodha committee’s recommendations, but they have not allowed us. Cricket in the districts has taken a backseat. CoA says we directly pay vendors but who will pay during district tournaments. There are associations who don’t have a single penny to run their leagues,” Shah said.
The age limit of 70 years also threw up objections from some associations. “We also mentioned the age criteria (the 70-year upper limit) for office-bearers. Age is not a hindrance. Anybody who is fit should be allowed. It’s the fundamental right of an individual,” the TNCA official said. “The original TNCA petition focused mainly on the issues that come under Article 19(1)(c) (of the Indian Constitution), which is related to the independence of the state association, that the state associations shouldn’t follow the BCCI constitution in toto.”
The northeastern state associations too raised issues. “Our petition before the Hon’ble Supreme Court says that the new BCCI constitution for the northeastern states (except Assam and Tripura, who were already Full Members) should be prospective and not retrospective, because neither did we have voting rights nor did we receive any BCCI grants, as we weren’t Full Members,” a Meghalaya Cricket Association office-bearer told this paper.