The Supreme Court on Thursday finalised a new charter for the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) while rejecting the ‘one State one vote’ recommendation of the Justice R.M. Lodha Committee and altering the cooling-off period for cricket bosses.
Softening the rigour of the committee's recommendations, a three-judge Bench, led by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dipak Misra, on Thursday disagreed with Justice Lodha that cricket could prosper only if the BCCI was represented by every State and Union Territory in the country. The former CJI had relegated cricket associations to the status of associate members.
Instead, the court restored full BCCI memberships to three associations in Gujarat and Maharashtra each.The cricket associations are the Maharashtra, Mumbai and Vidarbha cricket associations and the Gujarat, Baroda and Saurashtra cricket associations.
“To utilise territoriality as a basis of exclusion is problematic because it ignores history and the contributions made by such associations to the development of cricket and its popularity,” Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, who wrote the judgment, reasoned.
But the Bench agreed that the National Cricket Club and the Cricket Club of India did not deserve to be full members of the BCCI.
The court gave the Services Sports Control Board, the Railways and the Association of Universities full membership in the BCCI. In the case of varsities, it described them as "a nucleus for encouraging the game of cricket among players of the college-going generation".
The Bench saw eye to eye with Justice Lodha's conclusion that "the game will be better off without cricketing oligopolies".
'Undergo a cooling-off period'
For this end, the court supported the recommendation of the Lodha panel that cricket administrators should undergo a “cooling-off period” before contesting elections to the BCCI or State associations.
“Cooling-off must be accepted as a means to prevent a few individuals from regarding the administration of cricket as a personal turf," Justice Chandrachud agreed.
But the Bench, comprising Justice A.M. Khanwilkar, struck a balance. Justice Lodha had suggested that the cooling-off period should kick in for a cricket administrator after his every tenure of three years in office.
Instead, the court said an administrator need to “cool-off” only after two consecutive terms of six years in office, whether in the BCCI or a State association or a combination of both.
“Six years in continuation is a sufficiently long period for experience and knowledge gained to be deployed in the interest of the game without at the same time resulting in a monopoly of power,” Justice Chandrachud said.
Modifies number of selectors from 3 to 5
The court modified the number of selectors from the current three to five, observing that a “broad-based selection committee” was required to tap the prodigious talent pool spread across the country.
“The vast territory of the nation, the extent of cricket being played both at the national and international level, the need for selectors to travel extensively to spot talent from the pool of cricketers and the need to encourage both domestic and international cricket, are considerations which persuade us to accept the plea for modification in regard to the number of selectors to five,” Justice Chandrachud observed.
The court upheld the Justice Lodha recommendation of an “apex council” to professionally manage the BCCI. The council would consist of a Chief Executive Officer, Chief Financial Officer and other officers who must be recruited on a transparent and professional basis. Of the nine members of the apex council, five (the president, vice-president, secretary, joint secretary, treasurer and a member) are to be elected by the General body.
The court retained the Lodha panel suggestion of barring government ministers or government servants from holding cricket office. It upheld the age cap of 70 years for cricket administrators.
The Registrar of Societies under the Tamil Nadu Societies Registration Act, 1975 should register the new Constitution and submit a report in the court within four weeks. After the BCCI constitution is registered, the board’s members should fine-tune their respective constitutions and register them within 30 days.