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BCCI vs Lodha Panel: New Committee, Old Status?

The Supreme Court in its order dated July 18, 2016 gave the Board of Control for Cricket in India six months to implement the constitutional reforms suggested by the Lodha panel. 11 months have passed and the SC-appointed Committee of Administrators — handed the responsibility to oversee the implementation of the reforms — have failed to execute the role handed to them.

Baidurjo Bhose |Cricketnext |June 27, 2017, 11:21 AM IST
BCCI vs Lodha Panel: New Committee, Old Status?

The Supreme Court in its order dated July 18, 2016 gave the Board of Control for Cricket in India six months to implement the constitutional reforms suggested by the Lodha panel. 11 months have passed and the SC-appointed Committee of Administrators — handed the responsibility to oversee the implementation of the reforms — have failed to execute the role handed to them. To make matters worse, the BCCI during the Special General Meeting on Monday once again managed to evade constitutional reforms by announcing the formation of a new committee to help the 'swift implementation of the Lodha reforms'.

The BCCI was on Monday expected to discuss ways in which the Lodha reforms would be partially implemented — through voting — and bring the areas of their concern to the SC’s notice when the apex court re-opens after the summer break in July. But another coup from former BCCI chief N Srinivasan during the SGM ensured that despite preparing a resolution to accept majority of the reforms on Sunday evening, the board had to do a U-turn on Monday and form a committee to please all parties.

Srinivasan Still Leading Show

The first question that comes to mind is that how exactly does this new committee help? And if indeed a committee was needed to act as middle-man between the state bodies and the COA, why did it take 11 months to come to the decision? This is a question that has found different answers from the different lobbies within the BCCI. It is no secret that it was Srinivasan who ensured that a resolution wasn’t passed to accept majority of the reforms suggested by the Lodha panel on Monday.

While the pro-Srinivasan lobby sees the new committee as a way to maintain the ‘bluff’ that has seen the BCCI plead innocence in front of the Supreme Court and evade implementing the reforms suggested by the Lodha panel, the anti-Srinivasan lobby sees it as an attempt to get the ball rolling as Srinivasan was hell-bent on maintaining ‘status quo’.

“It is an honest effort on the part of the board to get the ball rolling as 19 of the state bodies have already reached out to the court and in such a scenario, it is impossible to pass a resolution. The BCCI at the end of the day is the guardian of the state bodies, so, it is not possible for the board to not think about the welfare of the state associations. If the BCCI had to maintain ‘status quo’ as deemed fit in certain quarters, then we could have easily waited for July 14 when the apex court next hears our case. But we are indeed trying to move ahead and we might have a 7-member committee,” a senior BCCI official told CricketNext.

Conflict of Interest

From the initial 5 or 6, it is now being thought of making the new committee a 7-member body. But most importantly, considering that some of the men are bound to be from the Srinivasan camp, what are the chances that the committee might in all probability fail to get the ball rolling and another bluff is presented to the cricket fans of the country when it announces its first recommendation in a fortnight?

“BCCI will form a committee to see how best the Lodha reforms can be implemented and the fastest. The committee will have its first recommendations in a fortnight's time and BCCI office bearers will decide how many members will constitute this committee, which could be 5 or 6," Amitabh said on Monday.

Interestingly, the fortnight ends just 4 days before the next hearing in the Supreme Court on July 14. Now the question is how unbiased will the committee be considering that there will be people who would have the instruction of Srinivasan at the back of their mind. The former chief has made it clear to his men that the Supreme Court should be made to take calls and the BCCI shouldn’t implement any of the suggested reforms.

COA ‘Toothless’ Tiger?

But the question that baffles one and all is the role of the SC-appointed COA. Led by former Comptroller and Auditor General of India Vinod Rai, the committee was expected to take BCCI by storm. But since being formed in January 2017, all they have managed to do is request the board to partially implement the reforms proposed by the Lodha panel. And from time to time it has gone to the Supreme Court and informed them of the BCCI’s refusal to toe the line. But is this why they were appointed in the first place?

The COA was expected to ensure the fast implementation of the Lodha reforms. But over the last 5 months, they have managed to do everything from looking into the contracts of the players to trying to dissuade the BCCI from taking legal recourse against the ICC in financial matters. Yet, the ball hasn’t rolled one bit when it comes to their primary role of reworking the constitution of the BCCI.

In fact, former member Ramachandra Guha tore into the COA when he wrote to Rai, citing the reasons of his resignation from the committee. “I believe it was a mistake for the COA to have stayed silent and inactive when the Supreme Court judgment was being so flagrantly violated by people clearly disqualified to serve as office bearers of state and even BCCI run cricket bodies. The disqualified men were openly attending BCCI meetings, claiming to represent their state association, and indeed played a leading role in the concerted (if fortunately in the end aborted) attempt to get the Indian team to boycott the Champions Trophy. All these illegalities were widely reported in the press; yet the COA did not bring them to the notice of the Court, and did not issue clear directions asking the offenders to desist either,” Guha wrote.

Sadly, Guha’s resignation hasn’t helped matters and the BCCI is still being run by those ‘disqualified’ men who feel they have more right to attend SGMs and other meetings than any member in the media could ever think of.

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