Dilly-dallying to implement reforms in BCCI disappointing: Justice RM Lodha
Justice RM Lodha, in an exclusive interview with Hindustan Times, has said the dilly-dallying attitude of the Board of Control for Cricket in India with respect to the reforms has been disappointing and added that Vinod Rai, the head of the Committee of Administrators, is finding it hard to take the tough decisions alone.Updated: Nov 21, 2017 08:42 IST
It has been close to 18 months since the Supreme Court directed the Indian cricket Board (BCCI) to implement the Justice RM Lodha panel recommendations. But little headway has been made with BCCI and state association officials refusing to budge and the court battle over the Lodha report implementation still continuing. The architect of the reforms, Justice (Retd) RM Lodha expressed disappointment with the progress in this interview to Hindustan Times. Excerpts:
It has been 1-1/2 years since the Supreme Court verdict. What do you feel about the way things have moved?
I am disappointed, especially since the Supreme Court had given a clear verdict. The review petition of the BCCI has been dismissed and so has its curative petition. There shouldn’t have been any hindrance, but the dilly-dallying is very disappointing.
Do you think things slowed down after the retirement of Justice TS Thakur (ex-CJI)?
Well, you may say things were moving fast while he was there. But having said that, implementation of the law isn’t dependent on one individual. The judiciary is an institution, and irrespective of an individual, things keep moving forward.
Do you think the recommendations were practical?
Of course. We had studied the laws that govern BCCI and all its member associations and come to this conclusion. Interestingly, the International Cricket Council has recently restructured its constitution in a way very similar to the way we wanted the BCCI to be. They brought in a woman representative (process to appoint an independent woman director is on), introduced one-member, one-vote policy, etc. If the world body can make such changes, why can’t the BCCI?
Do you think the Committee of Administrators has not done enough?
The Committee of Administrators should have straightaway gone to the Registrar of Tamil Nadu Societies Registration Act, under which the BCCI is registered, to ring in the changes. After all, CoA had with it the Supreme Court verdict, which said the board needs a complete overhaul. By not doing so, they have given a lifeline to the board officials who aren’t willing to leave their posts and (are instead) coming up with bogeys to delay the implementation. The CoA should have taken a firm step at the start.
Is the CoA capable of carrying out the reforms?
It was a four-member panel initially but for the past few months, the strength has dwindled with the exit of Ramchandra Guha and Vikram Limaye. In my opinion, Vinod Rai is alone up there and probably finding it tough to take strong calls. Having more heads is much better than having one. I think the Court should have immediately restored the strength of the CoA so that Rai’s task could have become easier.
Is it a case of too many cooks?
You see, there are two power structures working in BCCI and that is making it tough to implement the recommendations. There are the BCCI officials and then there is the CoA. There have been differences between the two and that is acting as a hindrance. BCCI officials are against the total implementation of reforms.
Recently, Sharad Pawar said Lodha recommendations have messed up cricket.
I read that. But what we wanted is that cricket should be governed properly. We don’t want people to have fiefdoms. If you give someone just three years then he will have the added incentive of working honestly in the hope that he gets elected once he returns to the electoral fray after the cooling off period. But if you allow people to have a long tenure, there are chances they get lackadaisical.
Like in Delhi and District Cricket Association?
Yes, in fact in many associations. People have stayed for far too long and even now there have been attempts to bring in the old guard in some position going against the spirit of the court ruling (ex-secretary Niranjan Shah, who is over 70, has been appointed CEO of Saurashtra unit). We’ll find such instances, and we’ll also find instances where relatives of disqualified officials are put at the top. That’s because the officials don’t want to leave. The recommendations seek to minimise that through a complete overhaul.
There are complaints giving North-eastern states equal weightage through the One State, One Vote policy, will cause imbalance as there is no cricket legacy in the region.
Well, that is because there has been no investment in cricket there. Things take time. Cricket will take time to grow there and what we want is a pan India presence of the sport. Look, there is no dearth of talent. Northeast has a rich talent pool in sports and has talented athletes. If you are a good athlete, you’ll do well in all sports.