Lodha Committee calls off meeting

With no work at hand — following the apex court’s decision on Tuesday (Oct. 18) to defer the BCCI’s review petition — the committee had no option but to call off the meeting.

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BCCI... refusing to relent.   -  Getty Images

The Supreme Court-appointed Justice R. M. Lodha Committee, which had recommended major reforms in the BCCI (Board of Control ofr Cricket in India), has cancelled its meeting scheduled for October 21. With no work at hand — following the apex court’s decision on Tuesday (Oct. 18) to defer the BCCI’s review petition by 12 days — the committee had no option but to call off the meeting.

"The Committee may have cancelled the meeting because it is unclear about its own mandate," was the one-liner from a lawyer who has been following the case with keen interest.The BCCI had filed the review petition on August 16, within one month of the Supreme Court order on July 18 when it approved the Justice Lodha Committee’s reforms in cricket but by effecting modifications to live broadcast issues raised by the BCCI.

Three months have gone by with the BCCI not making any substantial move to fall in line with the Supreme Court's order to adopt the reforms. The BCCI has only restated the difficulties it faced in implementing the radical reforms because of various reasons, the main one being legal hindrances (the BCCI is registered under the Tamil Nadu Society's Act and the full members are either registered under the State Society's Act, Company Law Board or a Trust). It also stated the impracticability of adhering to many recommendations.

In the status report submitted to the Supreme Court on September 28, the Committee, after detailing the sequence of events that transpired after July 18, and noting them as impediments, had proposed to the apex court to "supersede the present office-bearers of the BCCI with immediate effect, and appoint in place a panel of administrators of the BCCI to ensure the smooth transition from the old to the new system.”

"While the office-bearers of the BCCI gave assurances to the Supreme Court Committee that they would cooperate with the Committee towards fulfilling the directions of this Hon’ble court (subject to any modifications or review), the events over the last weeks have shown that this is not the case. Directions of this Hon’ble court have been ignored, actions have been taken to present fait accompli to the Committee, the directions of the Committee have been breached, and member associations have not been duly intimated about the directions of the timelines fixed by it," said the Lodha Committee in its status report.

However, two full members of the BCCI, Vidarbha Cricket Association (VCA) and Tripura Cricket Association (TCA), have at least taken the first major step by adopting the MOA and Rules and Regulations and informed the Lodha Committee about it.

The Lodha Committee may have been optimistic of a some action by the Supreme Court on October 6, but that did not happen. It instead asked the presidents of the State Associations to file affidavits with the Lodha Committee and the Supreme Court, conveying their support to the rewritten MOA and Rules and Regulations.

Some members of the BCCI and the legal fraternity are now questioning the existence of the Lodha Committee with the first two timelines having lapsed without any significant action taken by the BCCI and its full members. On August 9, 2016, the Committee, comprising R. M. Lodha, former Chief Justice of India, Ashok Bhan, former Judge, Supreme Court of India, R. V. Ravneedran, former Judge, Supreme Court of India, served the first list of timelines for the BCCI to adopt the committee-drafted and the apex court-approved MOA and Rules and Regulations and the State Associations to amend their constitution, MOA and Rules and Regulations and bylaws in order to bring them in line with the reforms.

The BCCI and its full members were given a timeline of September 30 for adopting the MOA and Rules and Regulations, but only VCA and TCA have followed the Supreme Court order. The first timeline also included among others (1) to determine the order of rotation for recognition as full member between Maharashtra, Mumbai and Vidarbha in Maharashtra and between Gujarat, Saurashtra and Baroda in Gujarat (2) to draw a policy for fund disbursements among members (3) amendments to the IPL code of conduct for players and team officials, anti-corruption code for participants, anti-racism code for players and officials and operational rules (4) steering committee to be notified and to commence creation of the Cricket Players’ Association with financial support from the BCCI (5) transparency of member associations.

The second list for implementation would have led to the creation of a brand new BCCI on December 15.

People in the know believe that any outcome other than a judicial action for implementing the recommendations may lead to a situation wherein the Lodha Committee may cease to exist.

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