THE BCCI faces a complete wipeout of its top hierarchy following Thursday’s Supreme Court approving a new constitution that incorporates most key recommendations of the Lodha committee. Although the three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra relaxed the cooling-off clause for office-bearers serving more than one term, the current office-bearers of the BCCI — acting president C K Khanna, acting secretary Amitabh Choudhary and treasurer Anirudh Chaudhry — will still be ineligible to contest in the next board elections.
The court also scrapped the one-state-one-vote policy and restored the voting power of all associations in Maharashtra and Gujarat, and government bodies Railways, Services and Universities.
Tweaking the cooling-off clause in the draft constitution drawn up by the Supreme Court-mandated Committee of Administrators (CoA), the apex court said it would be applicable after two successive terms in office, instead of one as originally recommended by the Lodha panel.
The incumbent office-bearers have finished only one term of three years each in the BCCI, but they have completed nine years in office in their respective state associations. Although they relinquished their posts in the state bodies after the Supreme Court’s main judgment, they haven’t yet served a three-year cooling-off period.
This means that IPL governing council chairman Rajeev Shukla and former BCCI president Anurag Thakur are among those who will not be eligible to contest in the next cricket board elections. Both of them have completed nine years in office in their respective state associations.
“Between state associations and the BCCI, if they haven’t served the mandatory cooling-off period, then of course they are out,” sources close to the CoA told The Indian Express. A BCCI official, however, came up with a different interpretation: “The (major) implication of this order is that the CoA’s days are numbered.”
The Supreme Court’s redefinition of the “cooling-off” clause can make the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) president Sourav Ganguly one of the most prominent candidates to take charge of the BCCI after the new constitution is registered and fresh elections conducted.
Ganguly has completed four years as an office-bearer in the CAB and is eligible to serve two years either in the state association or the cricket board before the mandatory cooling-off period. The imminent leadership void might even make the former India captain the odds-on favourite to helm Indian cricket a few months down the line.
The modified order on the cooling-off period states: “For instance, if an office bearer has held office for two consecutive terms in any post in a state association, such an individual must face a cooling off period of three years. Likewise, if an individual has held any post as an office bearer of the BCCI for a total period of six years in succession, the individual must have a cooling off period of three years before seeking election again either to the BCCI or to a state association. The cooling off period would apply also in a situation where an individual holds a post for one term in a state association followed by a post in the BCCI successively or vice versa.”
The court directed the Registrar of Societies under the Tamil Nadu Societies Registration Act, 1975, to register the new BCCI constitution “forthwith” upon its presentation by the CEO and “report compliance” to the Secretary General of the Supreme Court “within four weeks”.
The BCCI members will then have 30 days more to undertake the registration of their respective constitutions “on similar lines” with the cricket board. The member units will have to furnish a compliance certificate to the CoA, which would submit a status report before the Supreme Court. The CoA will oversee and secure compliance of the court order.
Asked about fresh elections in the BCCI, CoA chairman Vinod Rai told The Indian Express, “Timelines are very clear. With regard to this question, I can give an answer after thoroughly studying the order.”
Among the key directives of the court are:
One-state-one-vote: While scrapping the one-state-one-vote policy and restoring the voting power of all state bodies in Maharashtra and Gujarat, the Supreme Court said: “These associations have a long and abiding history of nurturing talent for the game of cricket in India. The history of cricket in India is replete with their contribution to the cause of cricket. These associations have produced players who have brought laurels to their states and to the nation. The principle of territoriality requires that each of the States and Union Territories should have full membership of BCCI in terms as suggested in clause 3(a)(ii-B).”
The court, however, didn’t grant full memberships to the Cricket Club of India (CCI) and the National Cricket Club (NCC), as the two clubs don’t field teams in the Ranji Trophy and couldn’t be placed on a par with other state associations or affiliates.
Five selectors: Although the Lodha panel had recommended that the number of selectors be restricted to three, the amicus curiae, senior advocate Gopal Subramanium, backed the demand for raising this to five — subject to the criteria of a selector having played a minimum of seven Tests or thirty first-class matches or 10 ODIs and a minimum of 20 first-class matches. The court empowered the CoA to consult the Cricket Advisory Committee and constitute a committee of selectors “consistent with the above criteria” until fresh BCCI elections take place.