It is ironical that at a time when Indian cricket should be nursing a feel-good vibe, it is grappling with the uncertainty that has gripped the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). Virat Kohli’s men top the charts in the ICC rankings, especially in Tests, but with the Supreme Court sacking the BCCI’s leading officials, president Anurag Thakur and secretary Ajay Shirke, on January 2, cricket news is now tragically couched in legal jargon.
The Supreme Court’s public repudiation of the BCCI stemmed from the Board’s seeming reluctance to implement the reforms suggested by the Lodha Committee. While the Supreme Court will usher in a panel of administrators, who will oversee the BCCI’s transition to a transparent and rule-adhering body, the Board’s ousted officials are busy mulling over propping up proxies and somehow retaining their power.
When it all began…
The police arrests three Rajasthan Royals’ cricketers — S. Sreesanth, Ajit Chandila and Ankeet Chavan — on May 16, 2013. The three are accused of spot-fixing, and as the case unravels, more skeletons tumble out of the closet.
Gurunath Meiyappan of Chennai Super Kings is alleged to have placed bets on some Indian Premier League matches. Meiyappan being the son-in-law of the then BCCI president, N. Srinivasan, the issue gets worse. The court then steps in to stem the rot.
The events of that distant day trigger a series of newsbreaks, clarifications, court orders, enquiry committees and eventually pave the way for the Lodha Committee to formulate a basic preamble that the BCCI has to lean on and set right its administrative blemishes.
Let there be reform
After the Mudgal Committee appraises the Supreme Court about the irregularities in the way the Indian Premier League is run, the Court, in January 2015, appoints another panel headed by Justice R. M. Lodha to look into the larger affairs of the BCCI. The prescriptions for punishment and reforms are devised, and the ball that would later dismantle the BCCI oligarchy is set in motion.
Another January, another new dawn
Exactly a year down the line, January 4, 2016 to be precise, the Lodha Committee reveals its ideas to course-correct the BCCI. The Board and various State associations contest the recommendations and move the Supreme Court. However, the apex court clears a majority of the Lodha recommendations, and the writing on the wall is clear.
On March 3, 2016, the Supreme Court lashes out at the BCCI’s reluctance to embrace reforms. It asks Anurag Thakur: “It was international news that we had formed the Justice Lodha Committee to suggest reforms in cricket. The whole world knew it. Now you come to us and say the recommendations were a bolt from the blue for you, and you were not consulted. What were you doing? Waiting at the fence for a written invitation?”
The gloves are off, and in a skewed battle between the judiciary and the Board, it is inevitable which way the result would swing.
Thumbs up to Lodha
The Supreme Court accepts a large chunk of the Lodha recommendations on July 18, 2016. The Court then grants the BCCI time up to six months to implement the reforms. Meanwhile, the cricket administrators dig in their heels and try to resist — just that they do not realise they are in a quicksand.
In August 2016, Justice Katju wades in and terms the Supreme Court order as ‘unconstitutional and illegal.’ The next day, the Board files a review petition against the order. Any hope of an amicable resolution goes up in smoke while Katju, now representing a BCCI panel, inadvertently adds fuel to the fire.
Can we axe them, please?
In a stinging rebuke against the BCCI, the Lodha Committee seeks the Supreme Court’s approval to sack the Board’s office-bearers, who had violated its recommendations. That November 21 intervention is a hint of the dirge that would play in the BCCI.
The final blow
The new year dawns but for the BCCI skies remain dark. On January 2, 2017, the Supreme Court dismisses Thakur (BCCI president) and Shirke (BCCI secretary) from their posts.
The Court announces that a committee of administrators will be appointed on January 19 and the Board’s roadmap would be charted afresh.
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