New Delhi, July 18 (IANS) No minister or government official can be an office-bearer of the national cricketing body, the Supreme Court on Monday said in a major setback to the BCCI while it also accepted the Lodha Committee recommendation of one state-one vote for representation at the BCCI.
Rejecting the contention that the exclusion of the ministers — both at the central and state levels and bureaucrats — from being the office bearers of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) or its state affiliates would adversely affect their administration, the bench of Chief Justice Tirath Singh Thakur and Fakkir Mohamed Ibrahim Kalifulla said this does not mean that the game would cease to get their patronage.
“The argument that since ministerial and bureaucratic support and patronage has helped the BCCI in running its affairs in the past, they should be allowed to continue, lest the game suffers, has not impressed us. We do not think that the game flourishes in this country because any minister or civil servant holds office in the state associations or the BCCI,” Chief Justice Thakur said while pronouncing the judgement.
Unimpressed by the contention that “favours which the BCCI receives will disappear just because a minister or civil servant is not an office bearer”, the judgement said: “Nothing which is not due to the game or 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 ought we know that there may be an 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 the law even without holding any office in the BCCI or the state associations,” the court added.
The apex court said this while pronouncing on the number of objections that the apex cricketing body and its State affiliates have raised opposing the Justice Lodha Committee recommendations including one state one vote, ceiling on the number of terms a person could be an office bearer, age restriction of BCCI officials to 70 years and the presence of a CAG nominee on the BCCI board.
The apex court-appointed Lodha Committee, on January 4, recommended sweeping reforms and an administrative shake-up at the troubled BCCI, suggesting that ministers be barred from occupying positions, a cap put on the age and tenure of the office-bearers and legalising betting.
Some of the state cricket associations, former players Kirti Azad, Bishen Singh Bedi and cricket administrators had also approached the apex court with regard to the implementation of the Lodha panel recommendations.
On the question of bringing the BCCI within the ambit of Right to Information Act, the court left it for parliament to take a call.
However, the court refused to interfere with the BCCI in respect of awarding broadcasting rights and the funding of the state associations.
Giving six months’ time to the BCCI to transit to a new regime, the court said Justice Lodha Committee will oversee the transition.
“We respect the SC’s decision. Will look into how we can implement Lodha panel recommendations,” IPL chairman Rajeev Shukla told television channels while reacting to the Supreme Court’s verdict.
The apex court’s verdict could affect some of the most high profile BCCI officials including current president Anurag Thakur, who also heads the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA).
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 forego 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 currently 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.