SC dilutes Lodha recommendations

The Supreme Court, on Thursday, put an end to the confusion surrounding 'One State, one vote' when it got rid of the proposal in the new, approved draft BCCI Constitution. It also tweaked the cooling-off period for cricket bosses.

The apex court, while approving the draft BCCI constitution, granted full memberships to Saurashtra, Vidarbha, Mumbai Cricket Association, Railways, Services and Varsities association. (Representative Image)   -  Shanker Chakravarty

The Supreme Court finalised the new Constitution for Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) while rejecting the ‘one-State-one-vote’ recommendation of Justice R.M. Lodha Committee and altering the cooling-off period for cricket bosses.

Softening the rigour of the Lodha Committee recommendations, a three-judge Bench led by Chief Justice of India Dipa Misra, on Thursday, disagreed with Justice Lodha that cricket could prosper only if BCCI was represented by every State and Union Territory in the country. The former CJI had relegated cricket associations to the status of associate members.

Instead, the court restored full BCCI memberships to three associations in Gujarat and Maharashtra each.The cricket associations are Maharashtra, Mumbai and Vidarbha cricket associations in the State of Maharashtra and Gujarat, Baroda and Saurashtra cricket associations in the State of Gujarat.

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“To utilise territoriality as a basis of exclusion is problematic because it ignores history and the contributions made by such associations to the development of cricket and its popularity,” Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, who wrote the judgment, reasoned.

But the Bench agreed that the National Cricket Club and the Cricket Club of India did not deserve to be full members in BCCI.

The court gave Services Sports Control Board, the Railways and the Association of Universities full membership in the BCCI. In case of varsities, the court described them as "a nucleus for encouraging the game of cricket among players of the college-going generation".

The Bench saw eye-to-eye with Justice Lodha's conclusion that "the game will be better off without cricketing oligopolies".

For this end, the court supported the recommendation of the Lodha panel that cricket administrators should undergo a “cooling-off period” before contesting elections to BCCI or State associations.

“Cooling-off must be accepted as a means to prevent a few individuals from regarding the administration of cricket as a personal turf," Justice Chandrachud agreed.

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But the Bench, comprising Justice A.M. Khanwilkar, struck a balance. Justice Lodha had suggested that the cooling-off period should kick in for a cricket administrator after his every tenure of three years in office.

Instead, the court said an administrator needs to “cool-off” only after two consecutive terms of six years in office, whether in BCCI or a State association or a combination of both.

“Six years in continuation, is a sufficiently long period for experience and knowledge gained to be deployed in the interest of the game without at the same time resulting in a monopoly of power,” Justice Chandrachud explained.

The court modified the number of selectors from the current three to five, observing that a “broad-based selection committee” was required to tap the prodigious talent pool spread across the country.

“The vast territory of the nation, the extent of cricket being played both at the national and

international level, the need for selectors to travel extensively to spot talent from the pool of cricketers and the need to encourage both domestic and international cricket, are considerations which persuade us to accept the plea for modification in regard to the number of selectors to five,” Justice Chandrachud observed.

The court upheld the Justice Lodha recommendation for an “apex council” to professionally manage the BCCI. The council would consist of a Chief Executive Officer, Chief Financial Officer and other officers who must be recruited on a transparent and professional basis. Of the nine members of the apex council, five (the President, Vice President, Secretary, Joint Secretary, Treasurer and a member) are to be elected by the General body.

The court retained the Lodha panel suggestion to bar government ministers or government servants from holding cricket office. It upheld the age cap of 70 years for cricket administrators.

The Registrar of Societies under the Tamil Nadu Societies Registration Act, 1975 should register the new Constitution and submit a report in the Supreme Court within four weeks. After the BCCI Constitution is registered, the Board’s members should fine-tune their respective Constitutions and register them within 30 days.