Though summoned to the Supreme Court to explain their delay in implementing the Lodha reforms, BCCI top guns on Thursday won an opportunity from the apex court to draft their own version of what the new BCCI Constitution ought to be.
On August 23, a Special Bench led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra had directed the three top officebearers – Amitabh Choudhary, C.K. Khanna and Anirudh Chawdhry – to be personally present and explain their alleged lack of initiative and ability to push forward the Justice Lodha Committee reforms in the Special General Meeting (SGM) held on July 26.
As they stood besides their lawyers, the court presented them with a newfound chance to pen down their suggestions in their draft of the Board's Constitution. The court, however, added the rider that the draft should include the Justice Lodha panel recommendations. “The draft Constitution shall include the suggestions given by the Justice Lodha Committee in its entirety,” the Bench ordered.
The court gave the BCCI officials three weeks' time to complete the draft.
The Bench observed that once this draft is placed on record, a debate on the various recommendations, including those of the Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA) and other State and non-State cricketing bodies, would ensue. The next hearing has been fixed on October 13. The court ordered all the three officials to be present in court on that date.
The court warned the three office-bearers that serious consequences would visit them unless they “fully co-operate” with the Justice Lodha panel recommendations. The BCCI officials, represented by senior advocate Puneet Bali, assured “absolute cooperation” with the Lodha reforms while drafting their recommendations.
Senior advocate Parag Tripathi, appearing for the CoA led by former comptroller and auditor general Vinod Rai, which is charged with the day-to-day running of BCCI, said they have already drafted a new Constitution keeping in spirit of the Lodha recommendations.
Mr. Tripathi said there was hardly any response or suggestion from the BCCI officials or affiliated entities to the CoA's draft Constitution when it was circulated among them. Mr. Tripathi said the silence maintained about its draft was a “subterfuge” to not comply with the Supreme Court judgments endorsing the Justice Lodha reforms.
The CoA had, in its fifth status report to the court, recommended the removal of the the current BCCI office-bearers for their non-compliance with the Supreme Court's prinicipal judgment of July 18, 2016 to implement Lodha reforms in the next six months. The CoA had described the attitude of the stakeholders as that of “veiled non-cooperation”.
The court had earlier maintained that “the recommendations of the Justice Lodha Committee report as far as practicable, barring the issues which have been raised pertaining to membership, number of members of the selection committee, concept of associate membership, etc” should be implemented.
“The purpose is to implement the report as far as practicable and, thereafter, it shall be debated as to how the scheme of things can be considered so that the cricket, the 'gentleman's game', remains nearly perfect,” the court had recorded in its July 24 order.
Mr. Bali has been pressing for a debate on several aspects of the Lodha Committee recommendations, including the age cap of 70 years, cooling-off period, powers of the BCCI CEO, membership patterns, etc.
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