The Supreme Court, in a significant reprieve to BCCI and state office-bearers, has allowed them to serve separate nine-year terms at central and state level, permitting a total of 18 years in cricket administration. The clarification on Friday contradicted the Lodha Committee’s interpretation of the court’s order on January 2, when the committee said an office-bearer would be ineligible to continue if he had served nine years in total, whether at BCCI or state level or combined.
The confusion over tenure arose after the court modified its January 2 order, which had originally said: “A person shall be disqualified from being an Office-Bearer if he or she has been an Office-Bearer of the BCCI for a cumulative period of 9 years.” On January 3, the court modified that to: “Has been an Office-Bearer of the BCCI or a State Association for a cumulative period of 9 years.”
The original Lodha Committee recommendation regarding eligibility, which was passed by the Supreme Court on July 18 last year, had made it possible for an individual to serve nine years each at both BCCI and state level. A BCCI office-bearer’s cooling-off period could have been a three-year term at their state association, after which they could once again contest an election for a BCCI position. And if they won the BCCI post, the ensuing three-year term would serve as their cooling-off period from holding office at state level. An individual could therefore have spent 18 years in Indian cricket administration between the BCCI and his state association.
Such a scenario was possible once again after the Supreme Court clarified the uncertainty that arose following the order on January 2 and 3, and reverted the terms of tenure to the original recommendation of the Lodha Committee.
The Supreme Court also put off finalising the committee of administrators (COA) to supervise the BCCI to January 24. The court had asked amicus curiae Gopal Subramanium and senior legal counsel Anil Divan to nominate people for the COA, which they did in a sealed envelope on Friday. Upon studying the names, the court asked Subramanium if any of the candidates were over the age of 70, because the Lodha Committee had recommended that BCCI and state office-bearers should be under 70. Subramanium said a few names were over 70 and that the reasons for their inclusion were also listed.
On January 2, the court had dismantled the existing power structure of the BCCI by removing the board’s president Anurag Thakur and secretary Ajay Shirke for impeding the implementation of the Lodha Committee’s recommendations. The court said the board would be supervised by a committee of administrators until new office-bearers were elected once the BCCI implemented the recommendations. The court had directed the COA to supervise the administration of the BCCI through its chief executive Rahul Johri.
The COA’s other key function was to ensure that the Lodha Committee’s recommendations passed by the court order on July 18, 2016, were implemented by the BCCI and state associations.
Last week RM Lodha, the former chief justice of India and chairman of the Lodha Committee, said the COA would issue a fresh set of guidelines for the BCCI and state associations to adopt the new constitution in accordance with the recommendations. “There has to be [fresh timelines], but that will be done by the administrators. We said we don’t have that much of time, and that there has to be layers of administrators,” Lodha said. “The changes will happen. We will be there to supervise and guide the administrators.”
The Lodha Committee was formed in January 2015 to determine appropriate punishments for some of the officials involved in the 2013 IPL corruption scandal, and also to propose changes to streamline the BCCI, reform its functioning, prevent sporting fraud and conflict of interest.
In January 2016, the committee released its report, which recommended an exhaustive overhaul of the BCCI’s governance and administrative structures. On July 18, the Supreme Court of India approved the majority of the recommendations and directed the Lodha Committee to supervise the BCCI’s implementations of the same. However, despite the Lodha Committee laying out timelines and other directives, the board did not cooperate because it said that its state associations objected to the recommendations. This impasse eventually led to the Supreme Court removing Thakur and Shirke from office on January 2, 2017.