Raja Mandala: Pragmatic about SAARC08/09/2016
New Mental Health Bill provisions — and some challenges in their implementation08/10/2016
Reforms in BCCI
- The Indian Premier League (IPL) spot-fixing scandal 2013 that brought to the fore the unsavoury aspects of the cricketing administration.
- The Board of Control for Cricket in India, in its present form, is plagued with multiple problems. Some of the areas of concern in cricket administration are:
- Procedures of elections and terms of office-bearers
- Conflicts of interest- multiple positions held by one person
- Concentration of power
- Lack of transparency and Corruption
- player welfare and dispute resolution
- Audit, accounts and finances
Lodha Panel Committee
A committee was set up under the chairmanship of Justice Lodha to examine the areas of concern for cricket in India and suggest remedial measures. The Lodha Panel proposed sweeping structural reforms and specific rules to eliminate conflicts of interest and nearly permanent tenures existing in the BCCI. The main recommendations of the committee are :
- Structure of cricket Administration:To ensure proper representation, concept of “One state-one member-one vote”
- no voting rights for institutional or city based organisations
- Legalised Betting : Betting should be legalised for all except cricket players, officials and administrators; restricted to licensed betting houses
- Governance Reforms:
- Government servants and ministers should be barred from holding offices in BCCI
- Office bearers should not be above 70 years of age
- Three year term for BCCI President subject to maximum of 2 terms; other members can have 3 terms
- Right to Information:BCCI should be brought under RTI
- Representation to players
- There should be players association to ensure players have a say in Board’s functioning
- Wanted players especially women to be given an independent voice; players reduced to the status of employees
- Women’s Cricket Committee to be formed to cater to these neglected players
- Delinking IPL and BCCI– separation of IPL from other activities of BCCI
- Recommended the creation of 3 new positions– an ombudsman, an ethics officer and an electoral officer
- The committee suggested more days of rest to players rather than packing their schedules with IPL matches and parties
Analysis of the recommendations
- The measures have potential to bring about a radical overhaul in the functioning of the BCCI, boost its public image and substantially increase its credibility
- Recommendations such as restricted tenures, bar on holding more than one office at a time, limits on terms, cooling-off periods between the holding of one office and another and steps to prevent conflict of interest will be step in right direction if implemented in both spirit and letter.
- Representation to players and formation of player associations will go a long way in imparting true spirit to the administration of cricket in India.
- The recommendation to legalise betting may involve several implementation hassles. Ensuring that persons associated with cricket administration are not involved in betting will be difficult
- Representation to multiple associations in a particular state that have been founding members of the association would be difficult in view of the one state-one vote rule
- Cricket associations across various states have rejected most of the recommendations including limitations on terms, age, barring ministers and government officials from posts, holding of multiple posts etc.
Recent Supreme Court verdict
- Supreme Court ruled in favour of cricket and the game’s millions of viewers by upholding almost all the recommendations of the R.M. Lodha Committee to overhaul the cricket administration, at the end of a long hearing spanning over two years. The apex court found no reason to interfere with the recommendations.
- Chiefly, it gave full marks to the Lodha panel restrictions like ‘One State, One Vote’ or capping an age limit for cricket administrators at 70 or keeping government ministers and bureaucrats out or including a nominee of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) office or a three-year term with a cooling-off period between two successive terms and even the grounds of disqualification, which includes renouncing of position as soon as an office-bearer becomes a government minister.
- The judgment cursorily dismisses the BCCI and State Associations’ rejection of the Lodha panel recommendation that office-bearers should not enjoy “dual positions” simultaneously on the Board and in State cricket bodies.
- It hands over the job of supervising the transition to the Lodha Committee
- The court asked the panel to draw the timelines for completing the transition while directing the BCCI to approach the Supreme Court, and only the Supreme Court, in case any further directions are required.
- The court agreed that the ‘One State, Vote’ policy may affect budding cricketers in States having more then one member cricket clubs as in Maharashtra and Gujarat with a long-standing history in contributing to cricket.
- To avoid “long-drawn litigation and frustration for the players and cricket lovers”, the court suggested that the only way out of the “conundrum” is to introduce a policy of rotation of full membership among the clubs on an annual basis.
- During the period one of the associations would exercise rights and privileges of a full member, the other two associations would act as associate members of BCCI. This rotational arrangement would give each member a right to vote at its turn without violating the broader principle of one State one vote recommended by the Committee
- Though the court restrained from passing any directions to include the BCCI under the ambit of the Right to Information Act, it referred the question to the Law Commission of India to consider the suggestion from the Lodha panel.
- The recommendations effectively overhaul the BCCI’s organisational set-up, memberships and functioning for the sake of transparency and accountability.
Analysis and Way forward
- In case of BCCI, an impression had gained ground that the Board operated like a cosy, self-serving club. That it was important to put an end to grave conflict of interest issues that have plagued the game and take a hard line against malpractices such as match-fixing and spot-fixing is indisputable.
- One may disagree with some aspects of the court’s order such as the ‘one State one vote’ rule and the placing of a cap on the age of office-bearers — these are details best left to administrative bodies. But these are but cavils given the overall thrust of the order, which is aimed at introducing a measure of professionalism in the management of the game.
- It is here that the Supreme Court’s order will be tested in the years to come. If it brings about greater transparency in the operation of both commercial and sporting aspects of cricket, it would mean a significant victory for its genuine proponents and supporters.
- Normally, a private body would not be subject to such restrictions in its right to form an association. And the BCCI may well believe its powers are unfettered or at least not subject to judicial micromanagement.
- But cricket is a national sport and the BCCI, irrespective of its legal status, must act in a transparent and accountable manner as a trustee of the game.
- The need to do so is all the greater given the huge infusion of corporate funding in recent years, which has attracted an assortment of operators and shadowy interests seeking to capitalise on cricket’s popularity.