News 10 August 2016

Report recommends BCCI appeal order to implement reforms

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has issued an extraordinary 43-page rebuttal of the reforms suggested by the Justice Lodha Report, which was commissioned by the BCCI to suggest amendments to how the game is run in the country. The Justice Lodha Report – available here – made a number of recommendations for change in how cricket is run by the BCCI, including the legalisation of betting; that match-fixing and spot-fixing be made a criminal offence; nine-year tenure limits on BCCI officials; bans on politicians holding certain BCCI posts; registration of player agents and more. On 18 July this year, the Supreme Court ordered that certain recommendations must be implemented in six months’ time. Yesterday, a timeline for those reforms was handed to the BCCI.

Justice Markandey Katju was appointed by the BCCI to head a commission to advise on the Supreme Court’s 18 July order. ‘In my view, this is a clear case of the judiciary taking over legislative functions’, he writes in the report. ‘The Supreme Court could have no doubt forwarded the Lodha Committee recommendations to Parliament with their own recommendation that the Lodha Committee recommendations be enacted as law by Parliament, but to direct itself that the recommendations be implemented is clearly a legislative act not within the Court’s domain […] In their zeal to purportedly “clean” up cricket, the Supreme Court and the Lodha Committee have passed orders and directions completely contrary to law’.

The Katju Report lists 14 examples of alleged issues with the recommendations the Supreme Court requires the BCCI to implement:

• An age cap of 70 years has been fixed on BCCI and state cricket association office bearers,
• Maximum tenure of President of BCCI and non-eligibility of a member for a third term.
• Bar on an elected office bearer holding any office or post in a sports or athletic association or federation apart from cricket;
• Bar on being an office bearer of the BCCI for more than a cumulative period of 9 years;
• The Associations shall grant automatic membership to former international players hailing from the State.
• The Associations shall not have proxy voting.
• The Associations shall appoint an Electoral Officer, an Ethics Officer and an Ombudsman.
• Comptroller & Auditor General of India shall be a member having financial and regulatory oversight of the BCCI.
• The Association shall abide by the principles of Transparency laid down in Rules framed by the Lodha Committee.
• The BCCI is to adopt the Memorandum, Rules and Regulations as framed by the Lodha Committee
• Astro Turf is to be used on stadium grounds even though the same is contrary to ICC directives.
• Rather than stadiums being built, grounds for cricket are to be built and other sports ought to be played on the grounds as well to develop sporting culture. This too is contrary to ICC directives.
• One state shall have only one vote, and other existing full members shall be de-recognised as full members.
• Cooling off period.

‘Rights of membership, the qualification, including age limit, and election of office bearers, and the right to participate through voting, are all matters covered by the Tamil Nadu Societies Registration Act, 1975 and the Rules and bye laws of BCCI, and any decision in these matters has to be consistent with and not violative of the provisions of the said Act’, reads the report. ‘These areas cannot be the subject matter of judicial review for the reason that Article 19(1)(c) of the Constitution of India guarantees the fundamental right to form associations or unions’. As such, the Justice Katju report recommends that the BCCI ‘should file a review petition in the Supreme Court against the order dated 18.07.2016, and ask for the matter to be referred to a larger bench, preferably a Constitution Bench ( i.e. a bench of 5 Judges ) in view of the grave constitutional and legal issues involved’.

The Lodha Report was commissioned by the BCCI to make suggestions on how the BCCI runs cricket following the Justice Mudgal IPL Probe Committee Report, which was commissioned by the Supreme Court to investigate allegations of match-fixing and betting in the 2013 Indian Premier League (IPL). In February 2014, based on evidence from the Mudgal Report, the Supreme Court delivered its verdict, finding that Gurunath Meiyappan, a ‘team official’ with Chennai Super Kings, and Raj Kundra, a ‘team official’ of the Rajasthan Royals who held an 11.7% stake in the franchise, were guilty of illegal betting on IPL games.

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