The Supreme Court-appointed Lodha panel recommended on Monday barring ministers and government officials from holding office in the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and legalising betting in sweeping measures to clean up the scandal-ridden sports body.
The panel headed by justice (retd) RM Lodha was appointed by the apex court last year in the wake of a sport-fixing scandal in Indian Premier League (IPL), the biggest crisis to hit the cash-rich sports body in the country.
The three-member panel, which submitted a 159-page report on Monday to the Supreme Court for ratification, addressed a crowded press conference to make public the measures it has recommended.
Among the drastic suggestions was the one to legalise betting, which the panel felt would help curb corruption in the game and recommended that except for players and officials, people should be allowed to place bets on registered websites.
The Lodha panel last year gave two-year suspensions on IPL teams Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals and Chennai team principal Gurunath Meiyappan and Rajasthan co-owner Raj Kundra banned for life from cricket administration. Kundra and Meiyappan, son-in-law of former ICC chairman N Srinivasan, were indicted of spot-fixing.
The panel also suggested shake-up of the BCCI from top to bottom as part of its mandate to go into the functioning of the cricket body and address issues of corruption and conflict of interest that threatened the fair name of the game.
“The fact that forces from politics and business see cricket administration as a stepping stone to recognition and publicity is irrelevant to the cricket fan, until he realises, as many embittered souls recently have, that the game is not really being played on the cricket pitch,” the report said.
Although the current BCCI setup does not have ministers as office-bearers, in the past Union and state ministers have held office in the cricket body.
In what is seen as a bid to curb politics within the organisation, the panel has recommended that a state unit can have only one full member with voting rights in a general body, which it said will be at the top of the structure.
That will curb the influence of Gujarat and Maharashtra, which have three associations each, although there is likely to be a tussle on who will give up the voting right.
“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 people,” the report observed.
The current 14-member working committee, which takes all decisions before placing it in the AGM, will shrink to nine members with a CEO running day-to-day administration.
In a bid to streamline administration, the panel has said no office-bearer can hold two offices, which will mean that BCCI secretary Anurag Thakur cannot continue as Himachal Pradesh unit president.
To tighten governance, with particular focus monitoring the huge finances of the BCCI, it has recommended the inclusion of a member from the Comptroller and Auditor General’s office in the IPL body of nine, which will replace the present governing council.
The committee also recommended a cap of three tenures of three years each for BCCI officials, with no two consecutive terms, and an age cap of 70.
It announced a steering committee for the formation of a players’ association, run by “former international and domestic players comprising both men and women who have retired”.
In a bid to ensure transparency, it was also suggested that the BCCI be brought under the Right to Information Act in which it will be bound to share administrative and financial details with the public, a move opposed by the Board in the past citing its autonomy.
Another important decision taken by the committee was to clear former IPL COO Sundar Raman, who was alleged to have contacts with bookies. The panel said there was not enough evidence to indict Raman.