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Sunday, Dec 08, 2019

Lodha panel secy slams BCCI bid to dilute reforms, SC’s ‘new jurisdiction’

Gopal Sankaranarayanan, secretary of the Lodha panel when it made the report, criticised the bid to dilute clauses in a report approved by the court in 2016.

cricket Updated: Nov 13, 2019 08:40 IST
Khurram Habib
Khurram Habib
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Newly-elected President of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) Sourav Ganguly
Newly-elected President of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) Sourav Ganguly(AP)
         

BCCI’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) next month will likely see an attempt to amend major clauses in the Justice RM Lodha Committee report for the cricket body’s reforms.

The agenda for the AGM on December 1, circulated to its units, proposes amendments to key clauses in BCCI’s new statute, drawn up on the basis of the Lodha report and approved by the Supreme Court. It is seen as a bid to remove the ‘cooling-off’ period, to allow president Sourav Ganguly and secretary Jay Shah—their terms are now to 10 months—get a full term.

Elected in October, both have to step down next year unless the AGM tweaks the clause that requires office-bearers to enter a three-year cooling-off period after six years in office, in a state unit or BCCI. The SC will have to approve the amendments.

Gopal Sankaranarayanan, secretary of the Lodha panel when it made the report, criticised the bid to dilute clauses in a report approved by the court in 2016. “If they are allowed to, there is no point in the reforms process,” he said on Tuesday. “Tomorrow, they will recall all the changes they want, take us back to square one, get rid of the players’ association, players’ representatives, conflict of interest resolution, ombudsman; all aspects of it, including the 70-year age cap, cooling off, get rid of it and just sit back. It would be a waste of time for everyone.”

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The Supreme Court had eased some norms after cricket officials made submissions through amicus curiae PS Narasimha. Sankaranarayanan said by revisiting its July 2016 judgement, the court had gone against principle. “This is the constitutional practice—the constitution allows one review and the SC allows one curative petition after the review. That’s all, nothing else. What we are seeing here is completely new jurisdiction.”

The new BCCI constitution makes it clear it will have to get the Apex court’s approval for any changes. Clause 45, on amendment and repeal, says, “These rules and regulations of the BCCI will not be repealed, added to, amended or altered except when passed and adopted by a 3/4th majority of the members present and entitled to vote at a Special General Meeting of the General Body convened for the purpose or at the AGM. Any such amendment will not be given effect to without the leave of the Honourable Supreme Court.”

The court headed by then Chief Justice TS Thakur had given a final judgement on the Lodha report three years ago.

“Simply put, the case was over. Nothing else should have been looked at. That judgement, on July 18, 2016, the SC had approved everything of Lodha recommendations, one state-one vote, organisational structure. Once they gave the judgement, the SC itself did not have the jurisdiction to look at the matter further,” he said.

The court appointed the Committee of Administrators in January 2017 after BCCI office-bearers made implementation of the reforms tough by opposing many clauses in the Lodha Committee report.

The CoA was asked to only implement the recommendations, said Sankaranarayanan. But on July 24, the court said it found from the CoA there were outstanding issues and other interveners were petitioning it.

“See, you can’t revisit a judgement and say, ‘ok, but there are certain aspects we still have to look at’. There is nothing left to look at. That led to the dilution of one-state, one-vote and all those other things subsequently.”

Justice Lodha had in an interview to HT last month criticised the election of former office-bearers’ kin, saying “This is nepotism of the worst order, people just don’t want to leave the associations.”

Former India captain Bishan Bedi had said: “This is absolutely, downright appalling. The spirit of Justice Lodha (report) was never allowed to take off.”

DRAVID CONFLICT

BCCI Ethics Officer, Justice (retd) DK Jain, on Tuesday heard submission from ex-skipper and National Cricket Academy head, Rahul Dravid, on a conflict of interest complaint.

“Today, the hearing is concluded. I’ll give the order in a week or 10 days. I wanted some clarification on whatever doubts I had,” he said. Dravid’s lawyer appeared for him while Madhya Pradesh unit member Sanjiv Gupta, who had questioned Dravid holding the NCA post while being an India Cements employee, appeared in person.