New Delhi: Even as the tussle between the Supreme Court and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) intensifies with the government opposing administrative reforms, the apex court on Monday agreed to hear a plea seeking similar changes in the running of all national sports associations.
A bench comprising chief justice J.S. Khehar, justices N.V. Ramana and D.Y. Chandrachud issued notice to the centre and sought its reply in a public interest litigation seeking to extend the Lodha committee recommendations on administrative reforms at BCCI to all sports associations.
Last week, 22 sportspersons who have represented India at the international level including Ashok Kumar, Jwala Gutta, Ashwini Nachappa, Reeth Abraham and Bishen Singh Bedi moved the court seeking to apply the administrative reforms suggested by the Lodha panel to the National Sports Development Code of India, 2011.
The petition seeks to “ensure that the National Sports Federations and also their respective State entities function transparently, and to ensure the ultimate goal of good governance of National Sports Federations, and in the larger interests of the nation.”
The Lodha panel, in its report, suggested radical changes to clean up Indian cricket, including separating the Indian Premier League, a billion-dollar Twenty20 tournament, from other activities of the BCCI and legalizing betting “with strong safeguards”.
The court gave BCCI six months on 18 July 2016, to implement the changes under the watch of the Lodha committee, but many of the recommendations are yet to be implemented.
After the period ran out, on 20 January, the centre moved the Supreme Court against the implementation of the Lodha committee recommendations on behalf of Railway Sports Promotion Board, Services Sports Control Board and All India Universities. These three sporting bodies held full membership of the BCCI earlier but now stand relegated to associate member status without voting rights as per the Lodha committee’s “one state-one vote” recommendation.
“All sporting federations are governed by the National Sports Code of India which covers eligibility criteria of age and other restrictions,” said Rahul Mehra, Delhi government’s counsel. “The Code was upheld in 2014 by a division bench of the Delhi high court when it was challenged by the Indian Olympic Association and five other federations. It does not make sense for them to have approached the Supreme Court. If they (the applicants) wanted to annex it to the code, they should have moved an application in the Delhi high court as a case on a similar issue is being heard by it.”