SC reserves BCCI hearing to finalise its Constitution

The Supreme Court may consider modifying orders on 'one state, one vote' and cooling-off clause

The court has also restrained the High Courts from entertaining any plea on appointment of administrators for state cricket bodies.   -  AFP

The Supreme Court on Thursday reserved its order finalising the Constitution for the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) while prima facie indicating that it may modify some of the key recommendations of the Justice R.M. Lodha Committee to reform cricket administration in the country.

For one, Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, who heads the three-judge Bench, said prima facie the court does not accept the three-year cooling-off period recommended by the Lodha panel for BCCI administrators before they contest elections in the Board.

Justice D.Y. Chandrachud seemed to agree with the BCCI lawyer’s objections that there should not be any cooling-off period for those who want to contest the election for a different post in the Board hierarchy.

“We are not prima facie accepting the (recommendation) for cooling-off period,” Chief Justice Misra observed during the hearing.

Tamil Nadu Cricket Association and States of Maharashtra and Haryana strongly objected to having a cooling-off period. The TNCA submitted that the interruption would only spoil the rhythm and experience gathered by an administrator while in office. TNCA said a person's tenure should not be a “start-stop-start-stop” phenomenon.

Additional Solcitor General Tushar Mehta, for Maharashtra and Haryana, said that “if a person is fit and the people want to elect him back to office, how can the court stop them from doing so?”

Mehta also stressed on the “continuity of experience” in office for cricket administrators.

The Bench also heard arguments against the One State One Vote recommendation and agreed that there were several “age-old” which deserve to continue to have full membership in the BCCI.

“Every State has a vote, but there are age-old associations, services, clubs, etc, with long years of cricketing service to the nation which cannot be ignored,” Chief Justice Misra observed.

The hearing saw senior advocate Gopal Subramanium conceding to the BCCI formula of continuing with five members in the seniors selector committee. Subramanium went to the extent of also agreeing that the railways deserve recognition in the BCCI as the Indian women cricket team players are mostly from the railways.

Mehta questioned the age cap of 70 prescribed by the Lodha panel for cricket administrators. The law officer also objected to the ban on government ministers from holding BCCI positions.

“What is wrong in having an elected representative in the BCCI? Some of them have made decades' worth of contribution to cricket?” Mr. Mehta submitted.

Meanwhile, the Bench, while finalising the BCCI constitution, directed the state cricket associations not to conduct elections in the interim. It asked the high courts to not entertain any plea in this regard too.

Saying that the State cricket associations should fine-tune their constitutions in accordance with Chief Justice Misra expressed doubts about the feasibility of some of the recommendations. Chief Justice Misra had earlier said that once the Constitution was finalised, it would be tallied with all the Constitutions of the member associations, which would have to make changes in order to be compatible with the BCCI Constitution

With this, the BCCI case of many years in the Supreme Court has come a full circle from the judgment of July 18, 2016, confirming the Lodha recommendations. The same recommendations were re-confirmed in another elaborate judgment on January 2, 2017. The January verdict hadeven seen the Supreme Court remove Anurag Thakur as BCCI chief for not doing enough to implement the Lodha reforms.

On July 18, 2016, the Supreme Court had embraced the Lodha recommendations to overhaul Indian cricket administration at the end of a two-year-long innings during which the BCCI and State associations fought tooth-and-nail to protect their turfs from the court's intervention.

The apex court had then concluded that the Lodha reforms would effectively overhaul the BCCI’s organisational set-up, memberships and functioning for the sake of transparency and accountability.

It had given full marks to the ‘One State, One Vote’ policy, though the court had acknowledged that the policy may affect budding cricketers in States having more then one member cricket clubs as in Maharashtra and Gujarat with a long-standing history in contributing to cricket.

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