Supreme Court may allow review of Lodha panel recommendations

In January, the Lodha panel had proposed a series of sweeping changes to the BCCI’s administrative and governance structures © AFP

India’s Supreme Court has told the BCCI that it might be inclined to send a few of the recommendations proposed by the Lodha committee back to the three-member panel for review. The two-judge bench, comprising Chief Justice TS Thakur and Justice Ibrahim Kalifullah, did not, specify, however, which recommendations it could ask the committee to review.

The court made this observation on Thursday afternoon after hearing the argument presented by BCCI counsel, KK Venugopal, who said that majority of the recommendations made by the Lodha committee ought to be reconsidered, especially those pertaining to voting rights and limiting the advertisements in Tests and ODI telecasts to drinks and session breaks. The court set March 18 as the next date of hearing and has asked the BCCI and state associations to submit audited accounts of the expenses over the past five years through separate affidavits.

As reported on Tuesday, the BCCI had many reservations with the Lodha report. One of the issues Venugopal said the BCCI did not agree with was the one-state-one-vote proposal. In its report, which was made public on January 4, the Lodha panel had stated: “Democratic norms require each State should have equal representation, and therefore the Committee proposes the policy of ‘One State – One Member – One Vote’. In fact, this is the policy followed by other national sports associations (IHF & AIFF), each of whose members have an equal vote regardless of size or population. Even at the international level (IOC & FIFA), this is the position. Cricket ought to be no different.”

When Venugopal argued that it would disrupt the voting process practised for decades by the BCCI, the court suggested that the state associations should vote by rotation.

The BCCI also argued strongly against the presence of a nominee from the Comptrollor & Auditor General of India’s office on the proposed apex council, saying the board did not have a norm of an independent authority sitting on its governing bodies. In the affidavit filed on March 1, BCCI secretary Anurag Thakur had pointed that the ICC rules did not allow government representatives to be part of the Full Member boards and the global body may take the appointment of a CAG representative as government interference and, hence, derecognise the BCCI.

Venugopal said the BCCI would accept a CAG nominee in an advisory role without any voting rights. The court, however, did not relent. “BCCI rules are not sacrosanct which can’t be touched and changed by court. [There is] Nothing wrong in having CAG nominee in the BCCI. BCCI cannot have free hand in spending thousands of crore every year. There must be some checks and balances to stop corruption. You want [a] free hand to deal with crores of rupees,” the court said, according to ANI.

Another recommendation the BCCI opposed strongly was the panel’s suggestion to restrict advertisements during a match telecast to drinks and session breaks, instead of advertisements between overs and at the fall of a wicket. The BCCI’s affidavit had stated that if it failed to display advertisements between overs, it would suffer a “major revenue hit” and consequently the board would not be in a position to conduct any cricketing events as the value of the broadcasting contracts would be significantly devalued.

When Venugopal read out figures accrued as profits from the broadcasting revenues that were later disbursed to state associations, the court asked the BCCI and the state associations to file individual accounts for the past five years.

In addition to the BCCI, various state units – Mumbai Cricket Association, Maharashtra Cricket Association, Tamil Nadu Cricket Association, Baroda Cricket Association – filed their individual presentations objecting to the Lodha committee report.

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Source: ESPN Crickinfo

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