Lodha recommendations: Repair and refit job to begin at BCCI

Indian cricket will get a new look administration at the turn of three years. A highly-structured repair and refit job — at different layers of the BCCI administration — will bear fruit soon.

Tightening the screw... The Lodha committee recommendations are set to have far-reaching consequences on the BCCI administration.   -  Ramesh Sharma

Indian cricket will get a new look administration at the turn of three years. A highly-structured repair and refit — at different layers of the BCCI administration and in provinces where States are full and the privileged voting members — has been approved by the Supreme Court based on the Lodha committee recommendations.

The BCCI saw it coming; far from a harbinger of good things though. In fact, once Justice Lodha submitted the 300-page report to the Supreme Court on January 4, office bearers and other elected officials went though the first pangs of trepidation. And when the Apex Court landed the final big blow recently by virtually validating all recommendations of the Lodha Committee, the BCCI’s near nine decade long edifice was rattled. They have been told to get out in no uncertain terms.

Take this situation in the Mumbai Cricket Association. Dr. Unmesh Khanwilkar was elected as Jt. Hon. Secretary of the association in June 2015 and it has taken hours of hard work, day in and day out for him to get the hang of the new job; and he’s still learning on the job. He’s a master in Dental Surgery, Cosmetic and Endodontics, but he has virtually given up practice for the sake of cricket. He’s is likely to see the new rules set out by the Justice Lodha committee as travesty of justice because he had impressed the 300-odd clubs in the city by his sheer dint of work ethics over a period of ten years and more before getting elected as Jt. Secretary in his second bid. After completing his first three years in administration he cannot remain in the association as an office bearer at a time he would brought value to the association.

While Dr. Khanwilkar has is a right to view the action of the Supreme Court appointed committee as cold-blooded, his senior Jt. Hon. Secretary colleague, Dr. P. V. Shetty, would have been an office bearer for eight years at the time of the next elections. He still has another 17 years to come under the age cap of 70. But he can never again return to the MCA as an office-bearer. So would be the case with Dilip Vengsarkar, Prof. Ratnakar Shetty, Ravi Savant, Nitin Dalal and many more elected members. The Supreme Court’s decision will take a heavy toll of the BCCI and its full members, and the experienced administrators will disappear from the scene in four to six month’s time.

Tightening the screw

Among the recommendations that will have far-reaching consequences on the administration are (1) a single term of three years for office bearers and elected councillors to ensure that posts are not treated as permanent positions of power (2) cooling off period of three years after the first three-year-term (3) a cumulative cap of nine years as an office bearer (4) setting an age cap of 70 in order to filter those who are able and enthusiastic to govern the game that’s a national passion (5) barring ministers and government servants from being part of the administration (6) putting in place a governance structure in the Apex Council (replacing the Working Committee) with five elected office bearers (president, vice-president, secretary, jt. secretary, treasurer) and another elected from among full members nominated by the Players Association and a nominee of the Comptroller and Audior General of India (CAG) office or in the case of the State, the nominee of the Accountant General’s office.

The recommendations also include a management structure headed by a CEO (the BCCI has appointed Rahul Johri) with a line of managers working under him to run the day to day affairs. The IPL Governing Council will also work under an independent Chief Operating Officer with assistance from contracted managers.

Clearly another decision that has got the goat of the BCCI’s existing members is a decision to award full membership and vote to the North-East States in Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim which will swell the East Zone’s tally 12 votes. “This 12 and add Chhattisgarh and Uttarakhand...will call the shots in the Board. This is what Jagmohan Dalmiya did by showing the power of the vote to Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Andhra, Goa, Bihar, Odisha, Tripura, Assam. This can happen again...but from where are the new N-E states going to get the players (male and female) to form the player association,” asked a puzzled senior BCCI member.

On Sunday, MCA president Sharad Pawar declared his intention to quit within six months and for public consumption he repeatedly said that he would not like to comment on the Supreme Court decision because according to the Constitution of India, the Supreme Court is the highest authority.

The recommendations also include the reduction of the selection committee from five to three members, and giving them the responsibility to appoint the support staff, appointment of Ombudsman, ethics officer, electoral officer and laying down rules of conflict of interest. “Can any organisation in India get things done without the help of politicians and ministers. We require 50 odd permissions from government agencies to stage an international match. Will the authorities listen to people like us. The clubs are going to lose interest. Not only cricket administration, but game of cricket will collapse in this country. Wait and watch,” said an MCA managing committee member.

Justice Lodha and his committee will be overseeing the transition phase of the BCCI administration — from the old to the new — and with the BCCI given a timeline between four to six months, it would be interesting to see if he manages to get all parties cracking. It would be a miracle of sorts if he manages to implement every recommendation by January 18, 2017.

In its report, Justice Lodha made the following remarks: “The task assigned to the committee is clear: recommend those changes in the rules and regulations of BCCI that will further the interest of the public at large in the sport of cricket, improve the ethical standards and discipline in the game, streamline and create efficiency in the management of the BCCI, provide accessibility and transparency, prevent conflicts of interest situations and eradicate political and commercial interference and abuse and create mechanisms for resolution of disputes and grievances. As the Supreme Court has reiterated that the BCCI is carrying out public functions — functions that govern the interests of the public — the necessary corollary is that BCCI is subject to the rigours of public law. This would mandate that it acts in line with the general principles of reasonableness and fairness, and also that it adheres to the basic principles of accountability and transparency.”

Having set out to work as per the mandate of the Supreme Court, the Lodha Committee’s recommendations could have only been accepted by the apex court. It has done so eventually.