Another chapter before final verdict
Just hours after India defeated England in the second Test match in Visakhapatnam by 246 runs, the contents of the Justice Lodha Committee's third status report on the implementation of its proposed reforms came out into public. It did not make for pretty reading for the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). The Justice R.M. Lodha committee on Monday recommended the sacking of all office bearers of the BCCI and its state associations for non-implementation of its reforms while also suggesting the appointment of former Home Secretary G.K. Pillai to oversee the daily management of India’s apex cricket body. Reports indicate that the Supreme Court is due to give a verdict on December 5 on the non-implementation of reforms. "Direct and declare that all office-bearers of the BCCI and the state associations who are disqualified by virtue of the norms at Para 4 (above 70, Minister or government servant, holding a post in any other sports body, has been a BCCI office-bearer for a cumulative period of nine years or has been charged by a court for criminal offence) cease to hold office forthwith," the Lodha panel's status report said.
These recommendations by the SC-appointed Lodha Committee are the latest development in the ongoing stand-off between the Lodha committee and the BCCI over the running of the game in this country. If implemented, the likes of BCCI President and BJP leader Anurag Thakur and board secretary Ajay Shirke will not have a job in the money-spinning cricket body. Some of the high-profile recommendations from the court-appointed body that were not accepted by the BCCI include the “one state-one vote” directive, the age cap of 70 for office-bearers and the capping of tenure in office to nine years.
On the one side some argue that the apex court has gone way beyond its constitutional brief to try and impose its solution on the way this cricket body functions. Even though it is the sole guardian of cricket in this country, the BCCI is still a private body. It is not the apex court’s place to decide how the BCCI or cricket should be administrated. They have even gone on to describe the committee latest directive as an attempt at “nationalisation” of the game. The other side, meanwhile, argues that the BCCI is a cosy cartel of vested interests, whose only interests are to protect its massive profits.
It is indeed a corrupt body that desperately needs reform after a spate of corruption scandals. In a blatant bid to protect their interests, the political class, cutting across party lines, has done little to augment that process. The BCCI has failed to respect the court’s directive and openly flouted the proposed norms. However, the only difference this time is that the Lodha panel had the gumption to carry out its threats with the backing of the court. Everything will boil down to the apex court’s verdict on December 5. The future of Indian cricket is probably at stake.