In a stern message to the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), the Supreme Court Thursday directed it to “fall in line” with recommendations of the Justice R M Lodha Committee which has suggested massive restructuring of the cricket body.
The bench of Chief Justice T S Thakur and Justice F M I Kalifulla said the recommendations are “straight, rational and understandable” and “deserve respect” and “there is no reason to disagree with the committee” which has the most “illuminated and respected members of the legal community”.
While four weeks was granted to the BCCI — the matter was posted for further hearing on March 3 — to respond on the implementation of the recommendations of the Lodha committee, the court made it clear that since ample opportunity was given to all stakeholders over a long period and their views were taken into consideration before preparing the final report, there should not be any difficulty in accepting the recommendations.
The remarks by the bench came after senior advocate Shekhar Naphade, representing BCCI, said there was need to consult the 30-odd members of the board on the recommendations and in view of its legal committee’s meeting on February 7, four weeks be allowed to respond.
But the bench said “they all have been heard and have given their views to the committee. Ask your client to take a strict view of the recommendations. You can’t jump the gun. You must see the recommendations. These recommendations deserve respect… The best thing is to fall in line and follow the suggestions to save the trouble”.
Reacting to the Supreme Court’s hard stance, BCCI vice-president G Gangaraju maintained that the cricket body needed more time.
“We have to get together and act on this. In the best interest of the game, some things (in the Lodha report) are possible and some things are not possible. The (BCCI) general body has to meet. I think we should request the honourable Supreme Court to give us some more time,” Gangaraju told The Indian Express, even as the BCCI was set to meet on February 7 at its special general body meeting.
“An elected body can’t implement all these things overnight. It might upset the smooth functioning of one of the world’s biggest sports organisations. There could be legal implications as well,” he said.
Apart from asking for more time, Naphade had argued that several technical problems would arise in implementing the recommendations of the committee as BCCI is registered under the Tamil Nadu Societies Registration Act.
The bench said it would give the solution for following the suggestions: “Ultimately any transition and change has to come with whatever problems it has.” While the BCCI had submitted that it should not be seen as “obstructionist” and would come back with “concrete suggestions” after the meeting of the legal committee, the bench said “decks must be cleared for complete reform”.
Some of the far-reaching recommendations include one state-one vote and age limit of 70 for administrators as well as proposing the position of a CEO to run daily affairs of the board accountable to a nine-member apex council.
The bench agreed with the report that there was no need of representation of vice-presidents from all the five zones and there should be a three-year cooling off period after every tenure, restricted tenures for office-bearers (not more than nine years), no more proxy voting and pruning of number of vice-presidents from five to one. States like Bihar and Union Territories hitherto unrepresented would get domestic teams and votes in the board.
The apex court-appointed Lodha Committee on January 4 recommended sweeping reforms and an administrative shake-up for the troubled BCCI by suggesting that ministers be barred from occupying positions and legalisation of betting.
Some BCCI units remained defiant arguing that the BCCI was not legally bound, while others were in favour of accepting the recommendations. “We will request the Honourable Supreme Court to hear our plea also as our associations were not called even once by the Lodha committee. How can we lose our voting right and give it to some state which has never had any cricket there? The BCCI is expected to call the SGM on February 7 and we will see what can be done,” a board official said.
(With inputs from PTI)
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