Sourav Ganguly became BCCI president because of our reforms: Justice Lodha
The Ganguly-led BCCI also decided, on December 1, to dilute the constitution’s provision of the cap in tenure (via a cooling-off period) for its office bearers.Updated: Dec 11, 2019 14:02 IST
Justice (retd) RM Lodha, the architect of the reforms that led to a new constitution for the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), has expressed disappointment over Sourav Ganguly, the new president of the body, proposing changes to it..
On December 1, the Ganguly-led board, in its first Annual General Meeting after the reforms and with a new elected body, suggested major amendments to the constitution adopted last year — principal among them doing away with a “cooling-off” period of three years after six years as an office-bearer; diluting conflict of interest clauses on the grounds that they were “impractical”; and giving powers to the board secretary than the CEO.
In an interview with HT, justice Lodha called the move unfortunate.
Watch | ‘Unfortunate’: Justice Lodha on Sourav Ganguly reversing BCCI reforms
“It’s very unfortunate. I thought a cricketer at the helm of affairs will understand that it was only our reforms which brought him to this position,” Lodha said. “If the earlier system was in vogue, perhaps no cricketer could have ever dreamt of heading a body like the BCCI. The way the politics is played in cricket administration, I don’t think any cricketer would have been able to get this position but for these reforms.”
That’s all the more reason for those in charge now to “respect the reforms and try to fully implement them, instead of changing them”, Lodha added. He hoped the changes do not happen. “Let reforms work over a period of time and see how transparency, accountability come into the administration.”
The Ganguly-led BCCI also decided, on December 1, to dilute the constitution’s provision of the cap in tenure (via a cooling-off period) for its office bearers. Under the current constitution, Ganguly’s term would have ended in June 2020. The amendment clears a way for him, and also BCCI secretary Jay Shah (whose term was to end next June) to get extensions. The decision will need to be approved by the Supreme Court. Ganguly did not respond to calls and a text message seeking comments.
The BCCI also wants the court to sign off on another amendment that ends the Supreme Court’s involvement in future decisions on constitutional amendments. Instead, it will require a three-fourth majority at the AGM of BCCI. Kirti Azad, former India all-rounder and a member of the 1983 World Cup winning team, who recently contested to represent the Indian Cricketers’ Association at the BCCI’s apex council, also expressed his reservations about making amendments to the constitution. “When Sourav became president, we were very happy,” Azad said. “It was an opportunity for cricketers to clean the system. It is unfortunate that these things are happening. He (Lodha) should not have given them the chance to make those changes. He could have written that this (the constitution) will work for say, 10 years. You can’t remove anything or tweak anything. This deadwood would have been gone by that time, and you would have had an absolutely new thing.”
Commenting on the kin of former members of BCCI making an entry into the body, Lodha said it is legally impossible to deny them the right to contest as individuals. “As citizens, they are not debarred from contesting the elections,” he said. “They have come through the process, therefore I would not say there is any breach of statute or legal provision. They have exercised their right and come through the legal process.” Yet, he hoped that the system is robust enough to allow a more diverse set of people to enter cricket administration.
“Look, people will change it over a period of time,” he said. “It will take, say about two or three elections. Let independent people come to the administration and show their work.”
The former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court also said that the implementation of the reforms was delayed by the Committee of Administrators led by Vinod Rai that ran the board for 33 months before the Ganguly-led team took charge in October. “They took a lot of time in implementation,” Lodha said. “Their job was to implement the SC order by which our committee’s report was accepted. It should have been done a long time back. They took three years. As a matter of fact, the second election should have been due by this time because the first order was passed in July, 2016. The first election after reforms has taken place in 2019.”