It all began as a stand-alone match fixing investigation in 2013, which the BCCI sought to contain with the removal of a few players, administrators and IPL teams. Over the last three years three different committees namely the BCCI, three member commission and the committees headed by Justice Mudgal and Justice Lodha have dealt with various skeletons that had tumbled out of a closet that was traditionally never really opened.
All this, at a time when the average cricket fan in India had come to terms with the fact that cricket in India was controlled by a league of extraordinary gentlemen, who represented powerful political and business interests from the length and breadth of the country.
Vested interest and flamboyance often don’t go hand in hand and that is exactly what the BCCI did, leading to the judiciary putting its hat in the ring with the tacit consent of certain side lined elements within the BCCI. What happened thereafter is in the public domain and has culminated now in the recommendations of the Lodha Committee being accepted by the Apex Court of India.
The Reforms By Lodha Committee
The Apex Court has accepted major recommendations of the Lodha Committee on reforms in BCCI including a bar on ministers and civil servants and those above 70 from becoming its members but left it to Parliament to decide whether it should come under RTI and if betting on the game should be legalised. Further, the Court also accepted the recommendation regarding the placement of a CAG nominee in the BCCI.
Supreme Court’s Suggestions
The BCCI’s objection regarding one-state-one-vote was rejected. The Court said states like Maharashtra and Gujarat, which have more than one cricket association, will have voting rights on rotational basis. The Court also accepted the recommendation that one person should hold one post in cricket administration to avoid any conflict of interest and scrapping of all other administrative committees in the BCCI after CAG nominee comes in.
The judgement has paved the way for the funding of players associations by the BCCI and also ensured that such associations are represented in the BCCI. In what can be seen as the only saving grace for the BCCI, the Apex Court left it to the board to decide whether there is need for any changes in the existing agreement relating to broadcasting rights and whether a franchise member should be in the board to avoid any conflict of interest.
Wary of the BCCI’s previous record with cleaning up its act, the Apex Court has requested the Lodha Committee to oversee the transition of administrative structure in BCCI which has to take place within six months.
In what is presumably the biggest shake up in Cricket administration in the country, the Lodha Committee recommendations and the Judgement of the Apex Court has firmly reinforced the requirement of transparency in sports administration with a view to uphold the interests of sports persons, fans and above all, the country. It can be firmly stated in summing up that this is a step in the right direction. The sports bodies in the country need to get their houses in order at the earliest to maximise the country’s honour internationally and the players’ interest overall.
For the fans, the Apex Court has become the knight in shining armour to ensure that the very bulwark of transparency and ethical conduct is kept intact. The larger canvas is always about the removal of vested interest and autocratic conduct in all issues of national interest.
It is most humbly submitted that the acceptance of the Lodha Committee’s recommendations, if implemented in the correct spirit, shall pave the way for a new era in Cricket administration in India and may become the guiding principles for other sports bodies as well.