Lodha panel: legalise betting; no minister can hold BCCI post

Justice R.M. Lodha addressing a press conference, in New Delhi on Monday. Photo : R. V. Moorthy  

With a strong recommendation to lawmakers to legalise betting in cricket for all except cricket players, officials and administrators, the Supreme Court appointed Justice R.M. Lodha Committee report said on Monday that government servants and ministers should be banned from holding posts in the BCCI.

The committee commended the "good work" done by the BCCI, including pension scheme for national players. Justice Lodha along with Justices Ashok Bhan and R.V. Raveendran said their objective handed down by the apex court was not to limit the autonomy of the BCCI.

"Our call was not restrict or limit the BCCI and its good work. But our year-long effort was to remove the ailing parts, revitalise the body so that it could run a marathon for the betterment of the game. Our job was to restore the pristine glory of the game of which 1.28 billion of the country is passionate for," Justice Lodha said at a press conference in Delhi.

Taking a realistic stand on betting, the very cause for the apex court setting up the panel, Justice Lodha said betting is a 400 billion dollars phenomenon practised across the globe and lawmakers in India should enact laws to legalise it.

But the committee said players, team and match officials and cricket administrators should not be allowed to indulge in betting. As a rider, betting should be restricted to licensed betting houses. Again players and others banned should disclose their assets to BCCI in a measure to ensure that they do not bet.

The committee, however, said that match-and spot-fixing should be made a criminal offence.

Three-year term for office-bearers

The committee recommended that a nine-member apex council replace the 14-member BCCI working committee. Five of the nine office-bearers, namely its president, vice-president, secretary, joint secretary and treasurer should not be either government servant or minister. The office-bearers should not have crossed 70 years of age, should be an Indian and not an insolvent.

Asked why the committee did not exclude political class as a whole from cricket administration, Justice Lodha said the political class involves people from all walks of life and "we cannot brush the entire citizenry with one brush". Government servants and ministers are anyway prevented by the office of profit clause".

Each of these office-bearers has a three-year term and can contest for a maximum three terms. There will be a mandatory cooling off period after each term. No office-bearer can hold office consecutively in a row.

"Again if a person was president, after the cooling off period, he can only contest as president and not any of the other four posts. That is, one person one post," Justice Lodha explained.

In case of BCCI president, no person can hold the office for more than two terms.

The committee also introduced the dictum 'One State, One Vote', which means only cricket associations representing the State's would be full members and have voting rights in the 30-member general body of the BCCI. This, the committee, said was to ensure an "equitable voting pattern".

The court said the BCCI voting pattern has been victim to over-representation by some States like Maharashtra and Gujarat while the six states of northeast have none.

Again, the committee said zones would only be relevant for the purpose of tournaments conducted among themselves, but not for nomination to the governance of the board or to various standing committees.

The committee said State associations, including the DDCA, would come under the scrutiny and audit of the BCCI and include players in membership and management.

Asked what he had to say on the DDCA scam, Justice Lodha said, “We (committee) have not touched individual associations. Our report is comprehensive in nature.”

The committee said there would be no proxy voting among State associations and these bodies, which are the quintessential part of cricket governance within the BCCI, should prescribe disqualifications for their office-bearers and ensure uniformity of structure among them.

CEO to handle ‘non-cricketing affairs’

The committee introduced professionalism in management by recommending the appointment of a CEO assisted by six managers to exclusively handle "non-cricketing affairs" and handle the day-to-day management of the BCCI. They would be helped by two essential committees with reference to tours, technical aspects and tournaments.

The selection, coaching, performance and umpiring are to be handled by cricket committees manned only by former professionals with experience in first-class and international cricket.

Also, the panel recommended the setting up of a cricket players' association with membership to all international and most first-class men and women retired cricketers. They will be financially supported by the BCCI. A steering committee headed by former home secretary G.K. PillaI would negotiate with the BCCI for the players' association in this regard.

Players' agents would be registered with the BCCI, which will do a thorough anti-corruption check on them.

"Players, we found, were kept in the dark by their agents. Idea is to protect the interests of the players," Justice Lodha said.

The committee has laid down detailed norms on conflict of interest situations and largely divided it into tractable and intractable conflicts of interest. A former High Court judge should be appointed as ethics officer by the BCCI to administer issues relating to conflict of interest, misdemeanour and corruption.

A former Supreme Court judge should be appointed ombudsman to resolve internal disputes among BCCI and full members or breaches by official team members and all concerned with cricket. The ombudsman should also adjudicate suo motu or through complaints grievances concerning access to stadiums and ticket manipulations.

Similarly, an electoral officer should be nominated two weeks prior to BCCI elections to monitor the polls. This person should be a former election commissioner.

Sundar Raman gets clean chit

In a second report, the committee gave a clean chit to former >IPL COO Sundar Raman on allegations of his involvement in the 2013 IPL betting controversy.

Though finding him guilty of omitting to inform the authorities about the illegal activities indulged by team officials in the IPL, the committee said it did not find any material to prove that the omission was motivated or that Mr. Raman had any ulterior motive.

Asked whether the report is binding on BCCI, Justice Lodha said: “This committee was appointed by the highest court in the land. We have completed our brief and handed over the report to both the Supreme Court and we do not decide.”

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Printable version | Sep 10, 2021 8:54:05 AM |

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