Cricket

SC stands by Lodha panel report to revamp cricket

The Supreme Court on Monday ruled in favour of cricket and the game’s millions of viewers by upholding almost all the recommendations of the R.M. Lodha Committee to overhaul the cricket administration, at the end of a long hearing spanning over two years, during which the high priests of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and State associations fought tooth and nail to protect their turf.

In a language gently chiding the cricket administrators for their belligerent stance in court against “change”, a Bench of Chief Justice of India T.S. Thakur and Justice F.M.I. Kalifulla, who is retiring this week, advised them to let go of their “ego” to help usher in long-needed reform into the cash-rich sport for the sake of the spirit of the game.

“The truth is that resistance to change stems partly from people getting used to the status quo and partly because any change is perceived to affect their vested interest in terms of loss of ego, status, power or resources. This is true particularly when the suggested change is structural or organisational which involves some threat, real or perceived, of personal loss to those involved,” Chief Justice Thakur wrote in the 143-page judgment for the Bench.

Uncannily reading the minds of those opposing the Lodha panel recommendations submitted on December 18, 2015 for the court to stamp its authority, the Supreme Court said the sense of justice and fairness personified by Justice Lodha’s work seemed to have “made little or no difference” to those resisting the committee’s conclusions and suggestions.

The apex court found no reason to interfere with the recommendations.

Chiefly, it gave full marks to the Lodha panel restrictions like ‘One State, One Vote’ or capping an age limit for cricket administrators at 70 or keeping government ministers and bureaucrats out or including a nominee of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) office or a three-year term with a cooling-off period between two successive terms and even the grounds of disqualification, which includes renouncing of position as soon as an office-bearer becomes a government minister.

The judgment cursorily dismisses the BCCI and State Associations’ rejection of the Lodha panel recommendation that office-bearers should not enjoy “dual positions” simultaneously on the Board and in State cricket bodies.

The judgment gives the green signal to the panel’s recommendation for overhaul of the existing Committees of the BCCI on the ground that they do not have clearly defined terms of reference.

“The BCCI ought to adopt an approach that would institutionalize the management of its administrative affairs rather than such affairs being run on an ad-hoc basis,” the court agreed.

It hands over the job of supervising the transition to the Lodha Committee, saying “we hope that the same should be completed within a period of four months or at best six months from today”.

The court asked the panel to draw the timelines for completing the transition while directing the BCCI to approach the Supreme Court, and only the Supreme Court, in case of any further directions are required.

The court agreed that the 'One State, Vote' policy may affect budding cricketers in States having more then one member cricket clubs as in Maharashtra and Gujarat with a long-standing history in contributing to cricket.

To avoid “long-drawn litigation and frustration for the players and cricket lovers”, the court suggested that the only way out of the “conundrum” is to introduce a policy of rotation of full membership among the clubs on an annual basis.

“During the period one of the associations would exercise rights and privileges of a full member, the other two associations would act as associate members of BCCI. This rotational arrangement would give each member a right to vote at its turn without violating the broader principle of one State one vote recommended by the Committee,” the court reasoned.

Though the court restrained from passing any directions to include the BCCI under the ambit of the Right to Information Act, it referred the question to the Law Commission of India to consider the suggestion from the Lodha panel.

Uncannily reading the minds of those opposing the Lodha panel recommendations submitted on December 18, 2015 for the court to stamp its authority, the Supreme Court said the sense of justice and fairness personified by Justice Lodha’s work seemed to have “made little or no difference” to those resisting the committee’s conclusions and suggestions.

The recommendations effectively overhaul the BCCI’s organisational set-up, memberships and functioning for the sake of transparency and accountability. Chiefly, the court gave full marks to the Lodha panel restrictions like ‘One State, One Vote’ or capping an age limit for cricket administrators at 70 or keeping government ministers and bureaucrats out or including a nominee of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) office or a three-year term with a cooling-off period between two successive terms and even the grounds of disqualification, which includes renouncing of position as soon as an office-bearer becomes a government minister.

No dual positions

The judgment dismisses the BCCI and State Associations’ rejection of the panel recommendation that office-bearers should not enjoy “dual positions” simultaneously on the Board and in State cricket bodies.

The judgment gives the green signal to the recommendation for overhaul of the existing Committees of the BCCI on the ground that they do not have clearly defined terms of reference.

“The BCCI ought to adopt an approach that would institutionalise the management of its administrative affairs rather than such affairs being run on an ad-hoc basis,” the court agreed. It hands over the job of supervising the transition to the Lodha Committee, saying “we hope that the same would be completed within a period of four months or at best six months from today.”

The court asked the panel to draw the timelines for completing the transition while directing the BCCI to approach the Supreme Court, and only the Supreme Court, in case any further directions are required.

Rotation policy

It agreed that the ‘One State, One Vote’ policy may affect budding cricketers in States having more then one member cricket clubs as in Maharashtra and Gujarat with a long-standing history in contributing to cricket.

To avoid “long drawn litigation and frustration for the players and cricket lovers”, the court suggested a policy of rotation of full membership among the clubs on an annual basis.

Though the court refrained from passing any directions to include BCCI under the ambit of the Right to Information Act, it asked the Law Commission to consider the suggestion from the Lodha panel.

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Printable version | Oct 26, 2020 6:58:53 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/cricket/SC-stands-by-Lodha-panel-report-to-revamp-cricket/article14497534.ece

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