IMPLEMENTATION OF THE RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE
JUSTICE LODHA COMMITTEE IN LINE WITH JUDICIAL PRONOUNCEMENTS
Given India’s young demographics, widespread public involvement and passion among the youths, India is a preferred hub for major sporting events , but the most popular and preferred among them is cricket. Even though cricket is not our national game , yet it is in the hearts and minds of every Indian, be it young or old, which is best elucidated from the prominent cliché “cricket is not just a game , it is a religion”.
BOARD OF CONTROL FOR CRICKET IN INDIA (BCCI)
In accordance with the international convention, the game of cricket in India is governed by Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) at the national level and the state cricket associations at the state level. This autonomous agency with minimal governmental influence control and organizes various international , inter- territorial and domestic level events and tournaments. BCCI , which is directly affiliated to the International Cricket Council ( ICC) , is completely responsible for cricket governance in India. BCCI , a registered society under Tamil Nadu Societies Registration Act, 1860 , was formed in December 1928 in order to ensure the welfare and interest of the cricketers , to eliminate unethical and unfair practices from the game of cricket , to strive for sportsmanship and to uphold the spirit and passion for this game in every heart and mind.
However , since its very inception , BCCI has been mired in one controversy or the other largely due to incessant political interference and corruption. Even though BCCI is the richest cricket body in the world today, yet its functioning is shrouded in mystery. The cricket governance in India , by BCCI is plagued with endless controversies and issues including lack of transparency and accountability, illegal betting and match-fixing. BCCI, which often flexes its muscles to suit its own end , is more often than not, engaged in political squabbles with least concern for the welfare of the game, the players and the enthusiastic fans. There is a close nexus between cricket and politics as the apex positions in the board are occupied by top bureaucrats and senior ministers who are, moreover, vested with unlimited discretionary powers. The board is marred with conflicts of interest and lapses in ethics, which is evident from its recent cases of corruption, alleged scandals in DDCA, Jammu and Kashmir Cricket Association, Goa Office bearers caught
by Enforcement Directorate, Hyderabad Association dealing with ACB. BCCI has been working more like a private body , with traditional opacity and corruption in functioning . The top office bearers of the board have used cricket as a medium to fulfil their self interests and is therefore the board is facing revenue management irregularities. BCCI has often found itself in the middle of many conflicts and the main point of contention being that the leaders have used their position in the board and cricket to mint money. One such decision to increase their revenue and profit share was the introduction of Indian Premier League in 2007 which was the brainchild of Lalit Modi. This new version of cricket in India , is allegedly involved in serious cases of betting involving players , renowned industrialists and bookies etc. . However, this league has brought to light the opaqueness of cricket administration of India where in the founder and former commissioner of the League was suspended in 2010 due to the alleged acts of individual misdemeanor. Especially, after the advent of IPL, match fixing and betting have become a more common notion in the cricket of India. The IPL’s 2013 edition , aggravated this debate , which saw illegal betting and spot fixing scandal involving Rajasthan Royals and Chennai Super kings. Authorities , in May 2013 , arrested the noted Indian cricketers S.Sreesanth, Ankeet Chavar and Ajit Chandila on alleged charges of fraud and cheating which was followed by their suspension by the BCCI. Gurunath Meiyappan, the owner of top favourite franchise Chennai Super Kings and Raj Kundra, co-owner of Rajasthan Royals also faced arrest and suspension on account of betting.
After such grave allegations, the IPL Governing Council appointed a three member probe panel only to commit another blunder of concluding that Kundra and Gurunath were not involved in the wrongdoing. In response to Public Interest Litigation filed by the Cricket Association of Bihar in July 2013, the Bombay High Court 1 declared that the BCCI’s probe panel was constituted illegally and the report submitted was controversial as there was disparity in the 1 Board of Control for Cricket in India v. Cricket Association of Bihar (2015) 1 MLJ 711 evidence collected by the panel. This made the intervention of Supreme Court mandatory wherein, in October 2013, the Apex Court constituted a three-member probe panel comprising of Justice Mukul Mudgal, senior advocate and additional solicitor general L Nageshwar Rao and Assam Cricket Association member Nilay Dutta. This panel conducted its independent investigation declaring Kundra and Gurunath guilty of betting. For the first time in history, an external agency, the Supreme Court, amended the Constitution of BCCI. THE Supreme Court, in its judgment pertaining to the 2013 IPL Corruption case struck down the controversial clause 6.2.4 of the Constitution of the BCCI that allowed the Board to have a commercial interest in the IPL and the Champions League T20, declaring it to be void, ineffective, and unsustainable and impermissible in law.
FORMATION OF THE JUSTICE LODHA COMMITTEE
In January 2015, the Supreme Court appointed a three member panel headed by former Chief Justice of India, R. M. Lodha and comprising of former Supreme Court judged Ashok Bhan and R. Raveendran , to clean up BCCI . The main contentions to be discussed, for which this panel was constituted were as follows:
- The quantum of punishment for Meiyappan and Kundra and their respective franchises.
- To look into the role of Raman in the spot fixing scandal and decide on a punishment, if necessary
- To suggest amendments in the procedure followed by the BCCI, with a view to prevent sporting frauds and conflicts of interests.
- To make the Board more responsive and accountable to the public expectations.
- An 82-point questionnaire was set by the Lodha Committee to the top administrators of the Board to seek clarification on the functioning of the BCCI. This questionnaire served as the guide to recommend changes and make amendments in BCCI’s Constitution and functioning. In July 2015, this committee suspended India Cements and Jaipur IPL, owners of Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals. Meiyappan and Kundra were also banned for life with regard to their involvement in cricket matches.
- Justice R.M. Lodha Committee Report, available at https://lodhacommitte.wordpress.com/2016/01/04/report-on-cricket-reforms/ last seen on 07/09/2017 at 8pm.
RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE LODHA COMMITTEE REPORT
Recently the three-member panel submitted its final report consisting of 159 pages to the Supreme Court for ratification in which it has recommended sweeping changes to the administrative and governance structures of BCCI. The noteworthy recommendations are as follows :-
- The committee recommended a cap of three tenures of three years each for BCCI officials, with no two consecutive terms, that is, a cooling – off period of three years and an age cap of 70 years.
- The current fourteen member working committee, which takes all decisions before placing it in the AGM, will shrink to nine members with a CEO running its day-to-day administration that will include two players’ representatives and a member from the office of the Comptroller and Auditor General.
- The discretionary powers of the President of the BCCI has been curtailed by limiting his voting rights.
- The number of Vice Presidents in the Board have been reduced from the present five to only one.
- In a bid to curb politics within the organization, the panel has recommended that a state unit can have only one full member with voting rights in a general body, which will thereby be at the top of the structure. This will curb the influential votes of Gujarat and Maharashtra , who have three associations each at present.
- The category of association members have been limited to two comprising of full members and associate members.
- The non – territorial members of the Board would get the status of associate members without voting rights, which include the Kolkata – based National Cricket Club, the Cricket Club of India in Mumbai and the three institutional members – Railway Sports Promotion Board, Services Sports Control Board and All India Universities.
- It also barred the ministers, serving bureaucrats and government officials from holding office in the BCCI.
- Among the drastic recommendations, another one was to legalize betting in order to curb corruption. It also suggested that except for players, teams, match officials, and cricket administrators, the general public will be allowed to place bets on registered websites which would generate revenues.
- In a bid to streamline administration, the Committee stated that no office bearer could hold two offices simultaneously at the state level as well as the central level.
- To tighten governance and strengthen administration, with a specific focus on monitoring the huge finances of the BCCI, the panel has recommended the inclusion of a member from the Comptroller and Auditor General’s office in the new body comprising of nine members, which will replace the present governing council.
- The Committee has also announced a steering committee for the formation of a player’s association, which will be run by former international and domestic players comprising of both men and women who have retired.
- To ensure transparency and eradicate opacity in its administration, it was also suggested that the BCCI should be brought under the Right to Information Act. This will ensure that the Board shares its administrative and financial details with the public.
- All additional BCCI Committees are to be scrapped and the IPL Governing Council too will be revamped. Thus, BCCI and IPL will have separate governing bodies.
- A players’ association is to be set up, which would be paid for by the Board which would play a crucial role in helping establish leverage for past and present cricketers including both men and women cricketers.
- To uphold the ethics and code of conduct of the sports, the BCCI will have three special officers: an ombudsman, an electoral officer and an ethics officer.
- Another significant decision of the Committee was to give a clean chit to the former IPL COO Sundar Raman, who was alleged to have contacts with bookies, as there was not enough evidence to indict him.
Therefore, the Lodha Committee suggested shake up of the BCCI from the top to bottom as part of its mandate to go into the functioning of the richest and the most powerful cricket governing body in India and address serious issues of corruption and conflict of interests that threatened the fair name of the game. These recommendations are aimed at making root- and- branch reforms in the elite formation of BCCI that rules at the central and state levels. In this report, structural reforms, specific rules to eliminate conflicts of interest and creation of near permanent tenures and fiefdoms are targeted.
IMPLEMENTATION OF THE RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE JUSTICE LODHA COMMITTEE
Amidst the atmosphere of bad elements being associated with cricket in India, the recommendations of the Committee headed by Justice Lodha have ushered a new ray of hope in the governance and administration of cricket in India. The above mentioned reforms proposed by the three member panel recommend sweeping changes from the grass root levels to that in the top echelons of power.
Constitution of the Board
Clipping off the current set – up’s wings, the Justice Lodha’s report has replaced the Working Committee, the BCCI’s highest decision making body with an Apex Council. BCCI will now have a nine member apex council as opposed to the present fourteen member council. Of this, five will be elected; two should be representatives of players’ associations, and one woman. The five elected office bearers include : President, Secretary, one Vice President (instead of the current five) , Treasurer and Joint Secretary. Such kind of constitution of BCCI will create space for professional management and prevent the domination of any one individual in the Board. Players’ association and Selection Committee with senior players will bring in cricketers’ perspective and bring balance between administrators and players. Having a woman in the Apex Council will be a good initiative in correcting the glaring gender disparity in the BCCI.
Duties and powers
The duties and powers of the members of the Board have been realigned in order to ensure accountability and responsiveness. The President is shorn of his say in selections. The additional vote for the President at meetings is deleted.
One State and One Vote
This policy of one state and one vote wherein only one association of each state will have representation in BCCI with one voting right, will give equal representation to all states and will be helpful in promotion of the cricket sport and its events in the backward, smaller, hilly and North Eastern States. At present, many states are not represented on the BCCI, such as Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Uttarakhand and the six North
Eastern States whereas some states like Gujarat and Maharashtra are over represented. However after this reform every state would represent one unit and would thereby have one vote which would foster uniformity in the association and functioning of the Board and its member associations.
The zones would be relevant only for the purpose of the tournaments conducted among themselves and not for the nomination to the governance or Presidency of the Board. This would ensure that there is no zonal bickering among associations.
The Apex Council is further composed of three bodies or offices, which are as follows:
CEO – This office shall be responsible for all non – cricketing functions such as finance, operations, media or human resources etc.
Umpires Committee – This Committee, comprising only of umpires, selects and classifies the umpires for officiating games and tournaments under the auspices of the BCCI.
Cricket Committee – The Cricket Committees would be seven in number dealing with selection, coaching, performance evaluation and talent resource development of men, women, junior, zonal and differently abled categories of teams.
Each of these Committees would comprise only of former players which would ensure that the interests of the cricketers are upheld with minimal political interference. Moreover, such a system of constitution of the apex body of cricket governance would act like a watchdog over the functioning and administration of the other Committees and ensure a system of checks and balances.
Betting and match fixing
The Lodha Committee is of the view that betting should be legalized for the public , except for the players, BCCI members, administrators and those covered by the BCCI and IPL regulations. Match fixing is to be made a criminal offence. This was recommended in order to generate greater revenues and regulate betting. However the implementation of this recommendation would be suicidal attempt by the Government as legalizing such unethical practices would encourage match fixing in the game of cricket and would also finance terrorist activities.
Separating politics and cricket
The recommendations of the Committee debars the ministers and Government servants from holding a post in national or state level bodies governing the game of cricket in India in order to reduce politicization, patronage and bureaucratization of cricket while increasing accountability of office bearers. However, the major fallacy that lies in this recommendation is that it does not debar the politicians, MP, or MLAs from being a part of the sports bodies. Thus, although the Committee advocates for more representation of players in BCCI and other sports bodies but without cleaning the political interference
from sports, nothing fruitful can be obtained.
JUDICIAL INTERVENTION BY THE SUPREME COURT
The Hon’ble Supreme Court’s 143 – page judgment is unprecedented for any sports body in the country and is crucial to revamp the cricket administration in India. This judgment based on the Lodha Committee’s recommendations for reforming the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is widely described as being much needed, landmark and far reaching. The Apex Court’s order, it is hoped, will bring an end to BCCI’s arrogance and the brazen manner in which the sporting monolith cared little about accountability, transparency and fairness. All three words were anathema to the overaged mandarins running the apex cricket body – one that became only more opaque with every rupee that it raked in. While several matters raised by the Lodha Committee are open speculations and criticism from the BCCI office bearers, yet there are some certainties. The Supreme Court has accepted a crucial recommendation of the Lodha Committee , and laid down the eligibility criteria for office bearers, unambiguously stating that ministers and bureaucrats will henceforth not be allowed to hold BCCI positions. There remains a grey area here as the parliamentarians and legislators can still be a part of the cricket politics controlling the state of affairs either through their minions or the respective families. Moreover, the business persons can still be in control and run the sports organization like a business. Unfortunately, the corporate flaw will linger on. Thus, on this count, course corrections are required to be carried out in the near future. The 70 year cap on the age of officials and the ceiling of nine years for an office bearer will come into play immediately. The Supreme Court has set the ball rolling; all it now needs to ensure that this mechanism remains foolproof.
By accepting the suggestion that a nominee of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India should be in the BCCI to clamp down on the monetary and revenue management irregularities, the Apex Court will be able to minimize the financial skullduggery of which the Board was severely criticized and accused.
The Apex Court has shown a sharp understanding of two broad fallacies ; the concentration of power in the President of the BCCI and the patronage extended by the office to favour individuals who enjoy the confidence of the President of the Board.
On the other hand, by rolling the ball into the court of Parliament on the contention, whether the BCCI should come under the ambit of the Right To Information (RTI) and whether to legalize betting or not, it has possibly left a loophole unplugged. The Court did not curtail the Board’s ability to mint money and generate revenues through advertisements, which shows the rational and prudent approach for the development of sports.
The need of the hour is not cosmetic but fundamental change, which will lay the proper foundations on which the BCCI can function in a professional and transparent manner and will bring the game of cricket back to its pristine form and restore the confidence of the cricketers and lovers alike. 3 This is possible only when the BCCI follow and amend their constitution in respect of the recommendations of the Justice Lodha Committee and the various judicial pronouncements.
3. Board of Control for Cricket in India v. Cricket Association of Bihar (2015) 1 MLJ 711