Supreme Court sweeps 70+, mantris out of BCCI: Gamechanger


Indian cricket administration will never be the same again. Wrapping up a two-year-long examination of betting and spot-fixing allegations relating to IPL 2013, and possible reform of how the game is run, the Supreme Court on Monday ordered a comprehensive revamp of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) over the next six months, to be overseen by the Lodha committee .The SC order aims to transform the world’s richest cricket body by barring ministers and officials from the board and setting an age limit of 70 years for office-bearers.These stipulations effectively prevent political veterans like NCP chief Sharad Pawar or an old administrative hand like N Srinivasan from holding a BCCI post while forcing office-bearers like board president Anurag Thakur to shed their role in state bodies.A bench of Chief Justice T S Thakur and Justice F M I Kalifulla also insisted on implementation of the contentious one state, one vote suggestion. The Supreme Court on Monday closed the doors on those who for decadehad remained in the BCCI governing body by prescribing a maximum of three terms, each of three years, with the caveat that there would a cooling-off period between two terms.Interestingly, the court said any member of BCCI would lose membership upon becoming a minister or acquiring membership of any other sports body. This means membership in multiple sports bodies is banned .”Grounds for disqualification like unsoundness of mind, the member becoming a minister or holding membership in any sporting body also meet the requirement of reasonableness and do not call for interference from the court,” the bench of CJI T S Thakur and Justice F M I Kalifulla said.It said, “A three-year term recommended by the committee is, in our opinion, reasonable. Also, the prescription of cooling off period between two terms cannot be faulted.”The court accepted the Lodha panel’s recommendation that no person should serve more than nine years cumulatively in the apex council. This means a person could get elected to the apex council of BCCI for three terms but he cannot enjoy successive terms.The court asked the Lodha committee to “draw appropriate timelines for implementation of the recommendations and supervise implementation. Needless to say, BCCI and all concerned shall cooperate and act in aid of the committee and its directives”.ROTATIONAL VOTING RIGHTS FOR MAHA, GUJARAT ASSOCIATIONSIn its 143-page judgment, the Supreme Court bench of Chief Justice T S Thakur and Justice F M I Kalifulla said on Monday that BCCI might be a private body but it could not claim a fundamental right under Article 19(1)(c) to govern a sport, which was a national passion, “unhindered by any regulatory or other control”.In what would force many office bearers in BCCI to relinquish posts they held in their home state associations, the SC ruled that no person could be a office-bearer in both the BCCI and state association.Accepting the Lodha panel’s recommendations, the bench said, “The argument that individuals should be eligible to hold two posts, one each in the state association and BCCI, does not stand scrutiny in the light of the reasons given by the committee which do not, in our opinion, suffer from any perversity to call for our interference.”The bench said implementation of one state, one vote might relegate some permanent members, especially in case of Gujarat and Maharashtra which have three and four permanent members respectively, to associate status. “The only reasonable and rational answer to the problem within the broad principle of one state one vote would be to allow full membership of BCCI to rotate among the clubs on an annual basis,” said the CJI who authored the judgment for the bench.”This arrangement of rotational membership shall continue till such time the clubs associations come together to form a single entity, if such a unification was to ever become a reality,” the bench said.The court was at its severest in rejecting the BCCI’s arguments in support of keeping ministers and bureaucrats as part of cricket management. The board had argued that they brought management skills into BCCI.Banning entry of ministers and bureaucrats, the bench said, “Nothing which is not due to the game and is not legitimate need be done by any minister or civil servant. But we have no manner of doubt that what is legitimately due to the game will not be denied to the game merely because ministers or civil servants do not happen to be office-bearers. For aught we know that there may be overwhelming number of ministers and bureaucrats who are passionate about the game and would like to do everything that is legally permissible and reasonably possible within the four corners of law even without holding any office in BCCI or state associations.”The bench also said persons over the age of 70 should not be part of BCCI management and rejected former India star Chandu Borde’s plea that there were many retired cricketers like him who were over 70 yet contributed meaningfully to the development of the game.Quoting the National Sports Development Code of India, 2011, which prescribed an upper age limit of 70 years for sports administrators, the bench said, “A cricketer plays competitive cricket between 18 to 35 years of age. This implies that even after retirement, anyone who has potential to contribute to the game can do so for over three decades.”The court refused to give a ruling on application of RTI Act to BCCI and making betting legal in cricket. It said the Law Commission would examine applicability of RTI Act to BCCI while it was for the legislature to enact a law legalising betting.IMPLICATIONS OF SC VERDICT ONE-STATE-ONE VOTEStates like Maharashtra and Gujarat, who have three units with voting rights, now will cast their franchise on a rotational basis. In Maharashtra – for instance – Mumbai, Maharashtra and Vidarbha will have to play musical chairs which could lead to confusion over a sustained identity for the associations as well as the cricketers.BAR ON MINISTERS, CIVIL SERVANTS, THOSE ABOVE 70 AND THOSE HOLDING MORE THAN THREE TENURES SHOULD BE KEPT OUTThe likes of Sharad Pawar, Farooq Abdullah, N Srinivasan, Niranjan Shah, Ashirwad Behera, Ranjib Biswal, MP Pandove, Ajay Shirke, Abdul Bari Siddiqui are among the prominent names likely to be affected. Further, even BCCI president Anurag Thakur may have to quit if he goes on to become a cabinet minister or goes on to become the Himachal Pradesh CM. Court has already questioned his position as BCCI chief despite being charge-sheeted in a criminal case.RTI & BETTINGThe parliament will have to decide if BCCI should come under RTI and if betting should be legalized. BCCI sources say they’re not expecting a decision on this front in a hurry.CAG NOMINEE IN BCCI.A crucial aspect for the BCCI to deal with. CAG will now watch all BCCI’s financial deals with a hawk eye, keep a check on disbursement of funds, revenue models, player payments and will be part of the all-powerful nine-member Apex Council recommended by Justice Lodha.PLAYERS’ ASSOCIATION.The BCCI is most unhappy about this. SC says have a players’ association and pay it. BCCI says they’ve been paying current and former players handsomely for years apart from helping them avail several other amenities. A player association might see BCCI pulling back its purse strings to a sanctioned budget. Others say it’ll be the end of a feudal setting and the employee-employer relationship between the BCCI and the players.ONE ADMINISTRATOR, ONE POST SC says this will help avoid conflict. Does it mean Sourav Ganguly cannot continue as president of Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) while being a member of the IPL governing council and in the meantime not aspire to become the BCCI president? Several other officials will get affected and are waiting for some clarity on this.FRANCHISE REPRESENTATIVES AND NEUTRAL MEMBERS ON IPL GOVERNING COUNCILBCCI most unhappy with this decision. Will allow the likes of Chennai Super Kings (read: N Srinivasan) and Kolkata Knight Riders (read: Shahrukh Khan) to have a say in how IPL is administered.APEX COUNCILSC has ordered scrapping of all administrative committees in the BCCI (including the working committee) after CAG nominee comes in. A nine-member Apex Council will be formed with neutral individuals on board. Less members governing will lead to lesser confusion and more transparency.
TRANSITIONHectic workload ahead. Three-member panel will oversee the transition of administrative structure in BCCI, which has to take place within six months.

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