Unhappy Justice Lodha says fundamental structure of reforms has been affected
Justice RM Lodha, who headed the committee that drafted the reformed BCCI constitution which was first accepted by the Supreme Court through a judgement in July 2016, is not happy after the Apex Court revised its earlier verdict and watered down the reformed constitution on Thursday.
In the revised verdict, the Court did away with the one-state, one-vote policy and also diluted the clause on cooling-off period for office-bearers’ tenures.
Asked if things have gone back to square one, Justice Lodha said, “I wouldn’t say we are back to square one but I am not very happy as the fundamental structure of the reforms has been changed and affected. This is a weakened structure as compared to the one we had suggested.”
Justice Lodha said the reforms were accepted by the Supreme Court in 2016 and it had appointed the Committee of Administrators (CoA), giving it the mandate to implement it. “But for two years unfortunately, it (the new constitution) wasn’t implemented even though the CoA had the mandate.”
Amused at the Court’s latest decision, he said, “The cardinal principle of law is that you can’t go behind (on) a judgement, you can only interpret the judgement. The entire exercise of reforming the constitution by us had taken over a year.”
On Thursday, the Court did away with the one-state, one-vote policy as suggested by Lodha recommendations, allowing Gujarat and Maharashtra multiple votes — each state has three associations who will all vote. The Supreme Court also restored Railways, Association of Indian Universities (AIU) and Services’ right to vote.
Questioning the move Lodha said, “We did not deny Railways, AIU or Services participation in cricket, like Ranji Trophy. But we did not want government interference. We did not want any scope for manoeuvring and manipulation. University vote will, in a way, be decided by the Ministry of Human Resources. The Railways vote will be decided by the Railways ministry, i.e. again the government.
“Also, by giving three votes each to Maharashtra and Gujarat, there will be no parity as West Zone, comprising just two states will have a bigger say with six votes when compared to a state like Uttar Pradesh or Bihar, which will have just one vote.
“It is not that we were affecting the financial part, each association, within the state, would have got the same money. It is just that we wanted parity on votes.”
The other big decision taken by the Court on Thursday was the improvisation of the cooling-off period. While the Lodha panel had recommended a cooling-off period of three years after one term, the revised judgement says an official can continue for two terms before going into a cooling-off period.
“We wanted to remove monopoly of office-bearers — where same office-bearers would have continued to stay in office for two terms. However, by giving six years (at a stretch), they have allowed monopoly,” said Justice Lodha.