SC may allow BCCI to raise a few issues with Lodha panel

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New Delhi, March 3 (IANS) The Supreme Court on Thursday indicated that it may refer to the Justice Lodha Committee one or two issues for restricted consideration.

These have been flagged by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) as impediments in implementing the committee’s recommendations, including one vote one State.

The apex court bench of Chief Justice T.S. Thakur and Justice Fakkir Mohamed Ibrahim Kalifulla said that both Maharashtra and Gujarat together have seven votes — four in Maharashtra and three in Gujarat — and the associations represented in the apex cricketing body have their “historical boundaries” and not “geographical boundaries”.

Besides the Gujarat Cricket Association, Gujarat has Baroda Cricket Association and Saurashtra Cricket Association who are full members of the BCCI, each having a vote.

In Maharashtra, besides Maharashtra Cricket Association, there are Vidarbha Cricket Association, Mumbai Cricket Association and the Cricket Club of India.

“Their wanting to send it back to the Justice Lodha Committee is not a question, we will decide,” Chief Justice Thakur said as senior counsel K.K. Venugoopal appearing for the BCCI urged the court to refer to the Lodha Committee some of its recommendations for the consideration as the BCCI was facing impediments in carrying these out.

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Justifying the presence of these bodies in the BCCI as equal members with a vote, Venugopal gave historical justification of these associations’ presence in the BCCI since its beginning on account of them representing the pre-Independence princely states.

In the course of the hearing, the court said that let three associations in Gujarat and four in Maharashtra be there in the BCCI but they would take a rotation to exercise only one vote.

Finding the court unmoved by the BCCI’s submissions, Venugopal said, “We are not against the recommendations of the Justice Lodha Committee, all we are saying let us have a meeting of minds.”

The court also asked the BCCI to furnish the details of the money it had allocated to various State cricketing bodies and their use.

“We want you to show us what is the money you have given to the States. What is the plan you have indicated to the states for the use of money allocated to them and was there any monitoring,” the court asked Venugopal, adding: “How much you have given? Was it monitored?”

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Objecting to the recommendation to have a representative of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) on the board, senior counsel Venugopal said that it would amount to government interference that may not go well with the International Cricket Council (ICC) and may spell difficulties for the BCCI.

“Are you saying that the presence of a representative of the CAG would result in ICC suspending you,” the court asked as the BCCI argued that it would amount to government interference in the affairs of the cricketing body.

“It is not a say by the government. We will direct the CAG to look. You are discharging a public function. There must be someone to oversee you (your finances). You want a free hand in handling crores of rupees,” said Chief Justice Thakur.

As Venugopal told the court that there were limits to count going into the functioning of the society (BCCI) under a PIL, the bench said, “That chapter is over. You need not reiterate it.”

However, the BCCI was caught on the wrong foot as in the course of the arguments Venugopal appreciated the presence of ministers and civil servants in the good administration of the apex cricketing body.

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“Your arguments do not appeal to us,” bench said, observing, “You don’t want a nominee of a minister but the presence of a minister (in BCCI) has resulted in good administration.”

“On one hand you say that CAG nominee is a government interference, but on the bother hand you want ministers and government servants for good administration of the BCCI,” the court observed.

As some lawyers, including senior counsel Kapil Sibal said that they were not issued notice by the Lodha Committee to appear before it, Chief Justice Thakur said, “Did you want Justice Lodha Committee to send you invitations. You should have gone yourself. Were you sitting on the fence? You can’t say that you did not know. All of you knew it, that a committee has been set up. Whole world knew it.”

To hear all the parties before passing an order on the BCCI plea to let it go back to the Lodha Committee, the court has fixed March 18 as next date of hearing.

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