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Supreme Court defers hearing on BCCI’s review plea against Lodha reforms

In a major setback to the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), the Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed the cricket board’s petition seeking review of the apex court verdict validating the Lodha panel recommendations.

cricket Updated: Oct 18, 2016 20:50 IST
Lodha Committee,BCCI,BCCI Supreme Court
Supreme Court dismissed BCCI petition seeking review of the apex court verdict validating the Lodha panel recommendations.(HT File Photo)

The Supreme Court, which was to take a decision on the BCCI’s review petition against the Justice R.M. Lodha Committee recommendations on Tuesday, has defferred the issue by two weeks.

The issue will now be heard in chamber of Chief Justice T.S. Thakur two weeks later.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) in its review petition had sought that the matter should be heard in an open court hearing.

The Justice R.M. Lodha Committee appointed by the Supreme Court had proposed several far-reaching changes that could alter the way cricket is administered in the country.

The Lodha panel also sought the removal of the entire BCCI top brass, including its president Anurag Thakur.

READ: BCCI questions some Lodha report findings, SC no to plea for time

The apex court in its July 18 judgment accepted the recommendations of the Lodha Committee on the organisational reforms of the BCCI and had issued these as its directives.

With the BCCI dragging its feet on implementing the changes, the Lodha panel later accused the board of stalling reforms at every stage and violating the directions issued by the apex court.

Complaining that the BCCI ignored orders of the court and its recommendations on several issues, the Lodha panel sought action against the board’s top brass, including BCCI President Anurag Thakur, for violating the apex court’s orders.

Earlier this month, the BCCI’s special general meeting (SGM) decided to accept some of the recommendations put forward by the Lodha Committee although the board also continued to resist the order regarding the removal of the BCCI top brass.

The SGM also decided to form an apex council to look into the working of the BCCI as per the report submitted by the Lodha panel to the apex court.

The representative of Comptroller and Auditor General will also be included as a member of the apex council as well as the Indian Premier League (IPL) governing council.

The SGM also accepted guidelines regarding code of conduct for players and team officials, anti-doping code, anti-racism code, anti-corruption code and operational rules as suggested by the Lodha Committee for implementation for the next IPL season.

Chairman of the Supreme Court Committee on Reforms in Cricket Justice (retd.) R M Lodha with members Justice Ashok Bhan (R) and Justice R V Raveendran. (PTI Photo)

The members pointed out that while efforts will be made to ensure a 15-day gap between the national calendar and the IPL, the same will not be possible next year because of the ICC’s Champions Trophy being scheduled in England at around the same time.

According to the recommendations by the Lodha Committee, there has to be a 15-day window before and after the IPL. The Champions Trophy is scheduled for June 1-18 next year while the IPL is likely to end in the last week of May.

The BCCI stated that the Indian team may have to pull out of the Champions Trophy to be held in England next year if the recommendations by the Lodha panel are fully implemented.

The Supreme Court’s direction to the BCCI to stop disbursing funds to its state associations except in cricket related matters also met with some resistance from the board.

Thakur had asserted that it may not be possible to hold the rest of the matches in the series, including one Test and five one-day matches as he is unable to withdraw any money since the banks have frozen their accounts completely.

Justice Lodha, however, criticised the BCCI’s stand, asserting that the panel has directed that enough funds should be available to conduct the daily administrative activities of the board and there is no question of discontinuing with the New Zealand series.

READ: Didn’t ask ICC to intervene over Lodha panel recommendations: Anurag Thakur

The Supreme Court, based on Lodhi panel recommendations, also ruled that no minister or government official can be an office-bearer of the national cricketing body both at the central and state levels.

Some of the state cricket associations, former players Kirti Azad, Bishen Singh Bedi and cricket administrators also approached the apex court with regard to the implementation of the Lodha panel recommendations.

Giving six months’ time to the BCCI to transit to a new regime, the court said that the Justice Lodha Committee will oversee the transition.

Apart from Thakur, some of the other officials who could be affected are BCCI Secretary Ajay Shirke, Treasurer Aniruddh Chaudhary and Joint Secretary Amitabh Chaudhary, all of whom will now have to forgo their positions in their respective state associations to avoid conflict of interest.

Former BCCI presidents Sharad Pawar and N. Srinivasan may also have to give up on their ambitions of heading the world’s richest cricket body again as both of them have surpassed the age cap of 70 years. While Pawar is 75 years old, Srinivasan is 71.

Both are also presidents of their respective state associations. Pawar heads the Mumbai Cricket Association while Srinivasan is the chief of the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association.

First Published: Oct 18, 2016 15:26 IST