Final nail in the coffin
In a significant order, the Apex Court on Monday removed Anurag Thakur and Ajay Shirke from the post of President and Secretary of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), respectively. In fact, all office bearers of the cricket body, both at the state and national levels, have been mandated to quit their posts if they do not follow the guidelines set by Justice RM Lodha Committee or are ineligible according to the Apex Court's July 18 order. Anyone who decides to stay on is now required to give the undertaking to abide by its recommendations. Thakur has also been served a formal notice of contempt of court and perjury for allegedly lying about whether he had asked for a letter from ICC CEO on the appointment of the Comptroller Auditor General as BCCI member. In the period until the Lodha committee reforms are enforced, the court will nominate interim administrators to run the game. The verdict is sure to have serious political ramifications and also impact the way cricket is administered in India. On July 18, the Supreme Court directed the BCCI to implement the recommendations of the Justice Lodha panel and gave them six months to do it. The removal from Thakur and Shirke from the BCCI was inevitable, considering their inability to comply with the court’s orders. Some of the high-profile recommendations of 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, the capping of tenure in office to nine years and a cooling off period of three years between terms. The cricket body put the rejection of these recommendations down to the disagreement of the state associations over it—a rather weak argument all things considered. Some have argued that the apex court has gone way beyond its constitutional brief to try and impose its writ. Even though it is the sole guardian of cricket in this country, the BCCI is still a private body. It is not the court’s place to decide how the BCCI or cricket should be administrated. 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. Beyond these points of contention, the BCCI made a slew of strategic errors in its dealings with the court, culminating with one final error. Observers argue that it sought to wait until outgoing Chief Justice of India TS Thakur demitted office, hoping that the next dispensation will go easier on them. As Monday's developments suggest, this didn't happen.