Lodha Committee, BCCI in logjam ahead of SC order

India’s cricketing fraternity is waiting with bated breath to know the line of action the Supreme Court will take on Monday about a case that has grabbed national attention for almost 12 months.

The BCCI has not accepted and implemented the reforms suggested by the Lodha Committee.   -  R.V. Moorthy

India’s cricketing fraternity is waiting with bated breath to know the line of action the Supreme Court will take on Monday about a case that has grabbed national attention for almost 12 months.

As a significant fall out of the malpractices in cricket, especially in the IPL, the Supreme Court went to the extent of appointing a three-member committee in R. M. Lodha (former Chief Justice of India), Ashok Bhan and R. V. Raveendran (both retired judges of the Supreme Court) to write a "reforms in cricket" report and endorsed it by its order of July 18, 2016. The Supreme Court also gave a mandate to the Committee to implement its own recommendations within six months.

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Had the BCCI and its full members respected the Supreme Court edict, Indian cricket would have probably been in the cusp of the formation of a brand new BCCI and brand new bodies at State associations. The D-Day day was supposed to be December 15. While the Vidarbha Cricket Association (VCA) already has a new body in place as per the Lodha recommendations, the Tripura Cricket Association has given its nod to follow it. The Hyderabad Cricket Association (HCA), too, has announced that it will follow the Lodha recommendations.

The BCCI has been hell bent on achieving its own ends; it has made its objection to many recommendations in the court and in public. It did not follow timelines issued by the Lodha committee and has told the court that majority of its full members are opposed to a number of recommendations.

The argument has been that if the BCCI and the State Associations accept the recommendations, then in one shot, 95 percent of the cricket administrators in the country will be wiped out, which would lead to a collapse in administration.

The Lodha Committee has told the Supreme court more than once — and by enumerating the sequence of events — that the BCCI’s office-bearers are an impediment to implementing the July 18 order.

In its third Status Report, dated November 14, the Justice R. M. Lodha Committee petitioned the Supreme Court to (1) declare the present office-bearers of the BCCI and the State Associations disqualified (2) appoint former Union Home Secretary G. K. Pillai as the BCCI Observer (3) direct all administrative and management matters to be carried out by the CEO without bringing anything to the attention of the office-bearers and (4) give directions that may be deemed fit for the implementation of its order of July 18, 2016.

The Lodha Committee has told the Supreme Court that by validating its recommendations by the order of July 18, the following persons shall be disqualified from being an office-bearer if he or she (1) is not a citizen of India (2) has attained the age of 70 (3) is declared to be insolvent, or of unsound mind (4) is a Minister or Government servant (5) holds any office or post in a sports or athletic association or federation apart from cricket (6) has been an office-bearer of the BCCI for a cumulative period of nine years and (10) has been charged by a Court of law for having committed any criminal offence.

It was the second time after the Supreme Court order of July 18, when the Lodha Committee recommendations were validated with a modicum of modifications, that the Commitee has asked the apex court to dismiss the office bearers.

According to the Supreme Court, the July 18 order is final. Justice D. Y. Chandrachud said in his October 21 interim order: "The statement made on behalf of the BCCI to the Working Committee that it was only if the Review Petition, as well as Curative Petition, were to be dismissed that the recommendations of the Committee would be binding is patently misconceived. The recommendations of the Committee were endorsed in a final judgment and order of this Court, dated 18 July, 2016, subject to certain modifications. The judgment of this Court has to be implemented as it stands. A party to a litigation cannot be heard to say that it would treat a judgment of this Court as not having binding effect, unless the Review or Curative Petitions that it has filed are dismissed."