Following the Supreme Court proceedings on Tuesday, during which the apex court hinted that it might have a re-look at the one-state-one-vote clause mentioned in the Lodha Committee recommendations, as also three national selectors against five, the provision of cooling-off period for office-bearers remains the biggest bone of contention for BCCI and state associations in terms of implementing the reforms.
The court has directed the state associations and the cricket board office-bearers to give fresh suggestions on the draft BCCI constitution – submitted by the Committee of Administrators – before the next hearing on May 11. And almost all state units are going to include the cooling-off clause as ‘impractical’ in their suggestions. The BCCI officials and the state unit functionaries cite continuity as a reason for opposing cooling-off. Also, if this clause is implemented, a majority of current officials, in the BCCI and state bodies, might have to step down, at least temporarily.
Apart from the cooling-off, the suggestions would also include constitution of the Apex Council and distribution of functions, powers and responsibilities between elected office-bearers and professional appointees – with the latter being dominant – as ‘impracticable’. As per the Lodha Committee recommendation, accepted by the apex court in its July 18, 2016 order, office-bearers should have a cooling-off period of three years after each term of three years, with three terms maximum. A nine-member Apex Council is recommended as a replacement for the Working Committee, while hiring professionals has also been recommended in Lodha reforms to run the game and oversee daily administration in place of elected office-bearers.
According to a top BCCI official, 13 state associations – “Mumbai, Maharashtra, Kerala, Andhra, Goa, Vidarbha, Railways, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Universities, Jharkhand, Assam and Tripura” – are in favour of implementing the Lodha reforms barring these “contentious” clauses. Back in February, BCCI acting secretary Amitabh Choudhary had written a letter to all member units of the cricket board, urging them to implement the Lodha Committee recommendations “as far as practical” and a consensus gradually appeared among a section of members to implement the reforms sans the above-mentioned issues.
“The court observed that the BCCI administration has to have experienced guys, so my interpretation is that cooling-off is automatically combined there. A new person coming to the BCCI/state associations needs three years to get settled. After that if he is told to go, then what interest he will be having (with regard to putting in a vision)? Apex Council is an also an impractical thing. And the elected office-bearers have the voters’ mandate. Professionals are professionals. They should work under elected people. Our suggestions will include these,” Maharashtra Cricket Association secretary Riyaz Bagwan told The Indian Express.
Asked if this would be contrary to the spirit of the Lodha report, he said: “70-90 per cent in the report can be done, but impracticable things can’t be done.”
Former BCCI secretary, Saurashtra’s Niranjan Shah, said: “We are very happy that the court has recognised that people who have contributed to cricket are not to be excluded. Continuity is a major thing in any organisation, which is why the cooling-off clause is a major issue. Also, I think Working Committee is better than Apex Council for running cricket, because the decision-making at the Working Committee would be more democratic. And in all democracies, major power lies with elected members. You cannot give greater power to the professionals.
“We will also mention the age cap, because 70 is not a very old age now. That can be applicable to office-bearers but we are not in favour of totally excluding people above 70 years of age from the organisation. Their experience is necessary to run the organisation. The nine-year tenure cap is OK, because it was there in the Board before – a maximum three years for every office-bearer’s post. These are our requests. The Supreme Court will decide,” Shah told this paper.
Not in favour of…
Apart from one-state, one-vote, the following clauses in the Lodha reforms would be mentioned as “impracticable” by the state associations with regard to their suggestions to the draft BCCI constitution:
Provision of Cooling Off
Constitution of the Apex Council
Distribution of functions, powers and responsibilities between the Elected Office Bearers and the Professional appointees.