Former Chief Justice of India R M Lodha, who headed the panel that suspended Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and Rajasthan Royals for two years, said on Tuesday that the punitive steps should act as a “deterrent” for all the teams and their players playing cricket in the country.
Speaking to The Indian Express hours after releasing the report on quantum of punishment, Justice Lodha said he was “hopeful” that the the panel’s directives would go a long way in cleaning up the game of Cricket. “We have done our task. We have done it to the best of our capabilities. Now it is for the people to judge the outcome of what we have done…we are hopeful,” he said.
Justice Lodha headed the Supreme Court mandated high-powered committee, also comprising former judges Justices Ashok Bhan and R V Raveendran. Releasing the first part of its final report, the panel on Tuesday also suspended Gurunath Meiyappan and Raj Kundra for life from any matches conducted by BCCI.
“We hope it acts as a deterrent and that is what is reflected in our report,” said Justice Lodha. When asked how difficult was the task given to the panel by a bench led by Justice T S Thakur in January this year, the former CJI said: “I have been a judge for several decades now and I understand these are the tasks that require a lot of time and attention. But this is a matter worth all of it. Once we got the job in our hands, the entire panel worked on it in tandem.”
About how to prevent recurrence of such incidents in future, Justice Lodha said that the apex court verdict of January 22 and the panel report were self-speaking and that the panel was now concentrating on the recommendations for the reforms in the BCCI.
Apart from determining the quantum of punishments for Meiyappan, Kundra and the franchisee, the panel was asked by the top court to also examine and make suitable recommendations to the BCCI for reforms in its practices and procedures and amendments in its Memorandum of Association, Rules and Regulations. The panel has to propose reforms for issues like conflict of interest and to ensure the BCCI meets “demands of institutional integrity” in larger public interest while discharging what the court called “important public functions”.
Justice Lodha said that the panel was working on these recommendations. “We have already interacted with 45 relevant people and the pertinent inputs are being collected. Once we complete the process of consulting all the stakeholders, we will be in a position to consider changes that are required in the BCCI,” he said. The final report in this regard, he said, should be ready in another four months from now.
In the 57-page report, the panel had held that cricket is bigger than individuals or body of individuals and that financial losses to a few players or franchisees may not be of significant consideration when purity of game is the central element. “We feel that our decision must reflect a kind of institutionally firm view for upholding the paramountcy of the game,” it had said.