Lodha panel reforms: Supreme Court curbs BCCI’s financial powers

India’s cricket board cannot release funds to state affiliates until they implement sweeping reforms backed by the Supreme Court, the top court ruled on Friday, a decision that may disrupt the sport at the domestic level.
The BCCI has opposed the root-and-branch changes proposed by the Lodha panel, arguing it is a private body.(Prateek Choudhury/ HT File Photo)
The BCCI has opposed the root-and-branch changes proposed by the Lodha panel, arguing it is a private body.(Prateek Choudhury/ HT File Photo)
Updated on Oct 21, 2016 11:02 PM IST
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Hindustan Times | ByBhadra Sinha, New Delhi

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) will have to open up its accounts to an independent auditor that will also oversee the award of contracts and rights worth millions of rupees, the Supreme Court ordered on Friday.

Besides curtailing the financial powers of the world’s richest cricket body, the court also asked the BCCI not to give funds to its state affiliates till it implemented root-to-branch reforms recommended by Justice RM Lodha committee, appointed after the 2013 IPL spot-fixing scandal.

The panel recommended sweeping administrative reforms for cricket in the country, which the top court wants the BCCI to follow.

A bench headed by Chief Justice TS Thakur said the BCCI cannot award contracts above a monetary ceiling fixed by the Lodha panel, and ordered appointment of an independent auditor to audit the board’s income and expenditure.

The board must grant the auditors full access to records, accounts and other information.

Read | SC did what it thought was best to have its order implemented: Justice Lodha

Also, the court asked BCCI chief Anurag Thakur to comply with the recommendations and ordered that the board will need the committee’s approval to award contracts above a ceiling.

Thakur was reprimanded for asking International Cricket Council (ICC) chairman Shashank Manohar to give his views on the inclusion of a nominee from the comptroller and auditor general (CAG) into the board’s apex council.

The bench noted that the BCCI chief made an “effort to create a record to question the legitimacy of the recommendation of the committee for the appointment of a CAG nominee”.

The committee has recommended appointment of a CAG nominee to bring transparency into the BCCI, which the top court approved in July.

Friday’s directives are the latest in the face-off between the judiciary and the BCCI that has been accused of cherry-picking directives made by the Supreme Court-appointed Lodha panel.

Read | Can’t comment before seeing it: Thakur on SC’s order on Lodha reforms

Both directives might impact domestic cricket.

For one, the BCCI is set to award lucrative media rights to its domestic league, the Indian Premier League (IPL), for 10 years early next year. Squeezing of funds to state units could also hamper competitions.

The funds freeze is unlikely to affect the state units’ functioning immediately as they are believed to have substantial money in their accounts as the BCCI has released huge sums in August. But the ongoing Ranji Trophy tournament could be disrupted if they plead a financial crunch.

The BCCI says it wants to implement the reforms, but many of the state associations are opposed to it.

The court ruled that the state associations must submit affidavits committing to compliance with the Lodha panel’s recommendations in order to receive funds from the BCCI.

The court refrained from appointing officials to take over the BCCI’s administrative work and gave time till December 3 to adopt measures that Justice Lodha has recommended.

“Implementation of the final judgment of this court has been impeded by the intransigence of BCCI and its office-bearers …,” the bench said, ordering the board to file a compliance report in two weeks.

With inputs from agencies

Read| BCCI-Lodha saga: Here’s how the board’s fight against SC has played out

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