BCCI hopeful of a considered decision from Supreme Court

A BCCI office bearer claimed that the board had adopted “nearly 75%” of the Lodha Committee’s recommendations. © BCCI

The BCCI remains hopeful India’s Supreme Court will take a considered decision on the Lodha Committee’s latest proposal to disqualify all office bearers in the board and state associations if they fail to fulfill the eligibility criteria. A few of the BCCI’s top office bearers and officials said the board would not change its stance, but was happy to sit with the committee and have a dialogue to find a solution to the long-standing feud.

The latest suggestions were a part of the committee’s third status report which was submitted in the court on November 18. The committee has told the court that despite clear timelines in place to implement the recommendations that were approved by the court in its July 18 judgement, neither the BCCI nor the state associations have obeyed the order, and have continued to be negligent.

One reason for the BCCI’s optimism was because the court had earlier “refrained” from approving a proposal of the committee to supersede the top brass of the board.

In an order on October 21, the court noted that although it had found “substance in the status report”, it said “at this stage” it was refraining from approving the committee’s suggestion to supersede the office bearers because the board had said in a submission to the court that “it would make every genuine effort to persuade the state associations” to comply with the recommendations.

The BCCI maintains it has done so in the interim. “The committee wants us to implement all the recommendations in toto or wants all the office bearers to go,” a senior board office bearer said. “But no one understands that the BCCI has already accepted nearly 75% of the recommendations, most of those being already put into practice.”

The board, however, has consistently opposed certain key reforms such as the age cap of 70 years for board officials, the tenure cap of nine years with cooling-off periods in between, and the one-state-one-vote policy, among others.

Thakur and Shirke had been asked to submit written undertakings to the court stating the board would unequivocally implement the order of October 21. This order had limited the financial freedom of the BCCI and had also directed the board not to disburse any funds to state associations until they complied unreservedly with the recommendations.

In their affidavits, both Thakur and Shirke pointed out that board members had voted against adopting all the recommendations of the committee at the BCCI special general meeting on October 1. It is understood that committee did not feel it necessary to meet the BCCI’s top office bearers considering they had already stated the board would not comply with the court order.

However the BCCI’s reading of the situation is different. “To ensure that cricket runs smoothly the court had asked the committee to appoint an auditor as soon as possible,” the office bearer said. “No auditor has been appointed so far. The committee was also asked to set a threshold limit for various financial transactions the BCCI gets into. No threshold limit has been given. All our major decisions have been put on hold.”

The BCCI also questioned why the committee had proposed retired bureaucrat and former home secretary GK Pillai as an “observer” to look after the governance of the board. The committee suggested Pillai could also approve the various contractual obligations of the board in the future.

“On the one hand the committee says there should not be any government officials (working as an office bearer or official). On what basis did they then pick GK Pillai? Was there a process,” the office bearer said. Incidentally the committee has never imposed any restrictions on former civil servants, which Pillai is.

A top BCCI official said that an adverse court decision against the board was not likely to affect ongoing Test series between India and England. “Already the court has approved expenses for those Test matches till December 5. For the remaining matches, we will have to wait and see what the court says,” the official said.

Nagraj Gollapudi is a senior assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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