The Supreme Court on Friday gave another blow to BCCI when they restricted the cricketing body’s financial powers. The apex court said that the body has to consult the R M Lodha panel before spending money over a fixed amount decided by the panel itself. The court also said that state associations of BCCI will not be given ‘a single penny’ till they comply with the July 18 judgement which passed the reforms suggested by the Lodha commission.
The apex court asked BCCI to implement the reforms as suggested by the Lodha panel for cleaning up the sport in the country and bringing back the reputation to the ‘gentlemen’s game’. The panel led by former Chief Justice of India, R M Lodha suggested numerous changes for BCCI to implement.
How it all started?
Following allegations of corruption, match fixing and betting scandals in cricket in the country, the Supreme Court of India appointed a three-panel member led by Justice R M Lodha in January 2015 to look into the functioning of BCCI and suggest reforms. The Lodha Committee, in January 2016, released its list of reforms which had some major contentious points. The reforms were contested by several BCCI post holders. The possibility of one state, one vote became the biggest point of debate among several others; restriction on ministers and civil servants and those above 70 from becoming its members and cooling off period were some other major contentions. The recommendations focused mainly on BCCI administrative structures and not on its cricketing functions. Lodha panel also suggested the setting up of a players’ association in the country.
BCCI delayed implementing reforms
On February 4, 2016, Superme Court declared March 3rd as the deadline for the board to implement the reforms, after seeing that BCCI had not given any formal response on the same. “If you have any difficulty in implementing it [the reforms] we will have the Lodha Committee implement it for you,” Justice Thakur had told BCCI counsel.
On March 2, just a day before the hearing, BCCI filed an affidavit in court saying that they have implemented some of the reforms while simultaneously marked the ones it does not agree with- the one state, one vote, age cap of 70 years for an office-bearer or a board official, limits on an office bearer’s and restriction on advertisements during Tests and ODIs.
The SC accepted to consult Lodha panel to re-consider some of the changes but also slammed BCCI’s reluctance to accept the reforms and bring the changes.
Supreme Court judgment on Lodha panel, BCCI defies reforms
On July 18, the Supreme Court passed its judgment and asked BCCI to implement a majority of Lodha Committee proposals within four to six months. The court appointed Justice Lodha to oversee the implementation process. The judgment led to massive criticism from cricketing officials. Mumbai Cricket Association President Sharad Pawar stepped down from his position following the recommendations laid down by Lodha committee.
The BCCI appointed a panel led by former Supreme Court judge Markandey Katju to interact with Justice Lodha committee during the implementation of the reforms. Katju called the SC’s decision on reforms as “illegal”.
On September 21, the BCCI conducted its Annual General Meeting and defied Lodha Panel suggestions by picking a five-member selection panel for the men’s, women’s and junior teams as opposed to three-member panel.
Chief Justice of India TS Thakur warned BCCI to implement the recommendations after submitting a report to SC saying the body is interfering in the process of implementation of reforms and recommendations. “BCCI thinks it is law unto itself. We know how to get our orders implemented. BCCI thinks it is the lord. You better fall in line or we will make you fall in line,” Thakur says, giving the board a week to respond.
On October 1, BCCI failed to fulfill the deadline suggested by the Supreme Court.
SC cancels funding to state associations
On October 3, the Lodha Committee asked Yes Bank and Bank of Maharashtra to stop disbursing funds from BCCI accounts to state associations. Four days later, in an interim order, the SC said that no further money would be allotted to state associations unless they pass a resolution to implement Lodha committee’s recommendations. The interim order said that BCCI has adopted “an obstructionist and at times a defiant attitude which the Committee has taken note of and described as an impediment undermining not only the Committee but even the dignity of this Court with several statements and actions which according to the Committee are grossly out of order and may even constitute contempt.”
Final SC judgment
After BCCI cited ‘practical difficulties’ in the implementation of all the recommendations suggested by Lodha panel, the Supreme Court on October 18 passed a judgment adjouring the review petition filed by BCCI challenging the suggestions laid down by the Lodha committee.
Four days later, on Friday, the Supreme Court said that BCCI cannot enter into financial contracts over an amount declared by Lodha Committee without discussing with the panel. The sanction is imposed by SC until the cricketing body agrees to implement the suggestions laid down by Justice Lodha panel.
What next for BCCI?
BCCI President Anurag Thakur said that they have to follow the SC’s instructions but will look into every aspect of the game. If the petition is dismissed altogether before the hearing, the BCCI will have the last technical option of filing a curative petition. The ball is in the court’s court and they can well appoint administrators to oversee and enable implementation of the reforms suggested in the July 18 verdict. There is another possibility of the court allowing BCCI to implement them on their own, and give them a timeline for the same, however there is a very less possibility of the same happening.