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Cricket bodies have to fall in line: Supreme Court

The Supreme Court on Monday made it clear that all state cricket associations have to “fall in line” with recommendations of Justice R M Lodha led-panel on structural reforms in Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) which was carried out in the wake of match-fixing and spot-fixing allegations.

“Once BCCI is reformed it will go down the line and all cricket associations will have to reform itself if they want to associate with it. The committee constituted in wake of match-fixing and spot-fixing allegations was a serious exercise and not futile exercise,” a bench headed by Chief Justice T S Thakur said.

The bench also comprising Justice F M I Kalifulla, said that the recommendations of reforms at BCCI were made by a committee of experts with extensive deliberations with the stake holders and finding can’t be said to be “just recommendations”.

“It will no longer remain just recommendations if we say it has to be implemented. It was called recommendations as some of the findings of the committee were implemented by BCCI during the deliberations itself and some were not implemented.

“We are hearing the issue because we are seeing whether the recommendations which have not been implemented can be implemented or not,” the bench said to Haryana Cricket Association which was objecting to the recommendations of Lodha panel.

Counsel appearing for Haryana Cricket Association said that Lodha panel’s finding were just recommendations and few of them are not workable for cricket bodies to implement.

“Justice R M Lodha committee has said that what has been done is just cosmetic and what is required is not cosmetic reforms but more than that,” the bench said.

The apex court also pulled up Haryana Cricket Association for objecting to 70 years age cap for office bearers and said that “do some office bearers in cricket bodies think that they are indispensable.” 

“Do you think that some office bearers in cricket bodies think are indispensable. Nobody is indispensable leave alone the cricket administrators. There should be time when you have to say enough is enough and pave way for others to take charge,” the bench said.

To this the counsel said that objections to some recommendations of Lodha panel should not be taken as criticism of findings of the committee.

On objections raised by Karnataka Cricket Association (KCA) on inclusion of nominee of Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) on the cricket boards, the apex court said that law could be amended to pave the way for reforms.

“Justice R M Lodha committee has said that laws could be amended for inclusion of a nominee from CAG in governing bodies. The law doesn’t say that governing body should only comprise of members,” the bench said. KCA also objected to age cap and tenure of office bearers of cricket boards and said that certain recommendations are excellent but some are not workable.

Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh appearing for Railways Sports Promotion Board and Services Sports Control Board opposed the Lodha panel’s recommendation to downgrade them to associate members of the BCCI and taking away their voting rights.

The bench asked the ASG to give two reasons to justify the claim for voting rights in BCCI.

“Not allowing us right to vote is just like ousting us from the decision-making process despite meeting all the required rational parameters which applied to the states given the right to vote,” he said.

The ASG further said that both railways and services cricket boards have all India territory and they have contributed immensely to the sports and therefore they can’t be ousted from the decision-making process. Earlier, the apex court had pulled up the BCCI for resisting the Justice R M Lodha-led committee’s recommendation on capping the age of its office bearers to 70 years.

The current proceedings in the apex court is the outcome of the petition filed by CAB through its secretary Aditya Kumar Verma who has alleged large scale irregularities.

The SC had on April 25 pulled up BCCI for “monopolizing” cricket in the country and had said several youngsters wanting to be Dhonis and Kohlis are not given equal opportunity if they are not on the right side of the cricket body. It had also appointed Gopal Subramanium as amicus curiae in the matter and sought his assistance to explore as to how the recommendations of Justice Lodha committee reforms could be implemented.
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