New Delhi: In a move that flies in the face of the centre’s anti-corruption rhetoric, the government moved the Supreme Court on Friday against implementation of the Lodha committee recommendations on administrative reforms in the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).
“We were not heard when the court decided to implement some recommendations which go against our interests,” the government’s top law officer, attorney general Mukul Rohatgi, said.
Rohatgi appeared on behalf of Railway Sports Promotion Board, Services Sports Control Board and All India Universities. These three members of BCCI, which held full membership earlier, now stand relegated to associate member status without voting rights as per the Lodha committee’s “one state-one vote” recommendation.
Criticism poured in against the centre’s decision to intervene.
“It is shocking that the centre should protest against the Lodha committee reforms which want to make BCCI accountable. BCCI’s zero transparency is accentuated by the presence of political parties which may affect the commitment to ensure cricket is orderly,” said Sanjay Jha, a Mumbai-based spokesperson of the Congress party.
“Neither the government nor the major parties are doing anything for anti-corruption. When it comes to sports and specially cricket they all have just one agenda and that is to loot. No effort has been made by the government to control this,” Saurabh Bharadwaj, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) spokesperson, said.
The Bharatiya Janata Party declined to comment on the issue.
The “one state-one vote” policy approved by the apex court in its 18 July 2016 verdict effectively relegated non-territorial members of the board to the status of associate members without voting rights.
These include the Kolkata-based National Cricket Club, the Cricket Club of India in Mumbai and the three institutional members—Railway Sports Promotion Board, Services Sports Control Board and All India Universities.
The policy also meant that in states with more than one cricket association, as in the case of Gujarat (Saurashtra, Gujarat and Baroda) and Maharashtra (Mumbai, Maharashtra and Vidarbha), the associations will have voting rights on a “rotational basis”—one at a time.
According to a sports marketing expert who did not wish to be identified, things are only going to worsen going forward.
“Everytime you add a new element to the mix it gets murkier, more confusing and becomes a never ending mess. The last thing you want is for the BCCI and the government to be at logger heads with the court,” he said.
The apex court said that the issues raised by the government will be dealt with at a later stage, after the court appoints a panel of administrators to govern BCCI in the interim and implement Lodha panel recommendations. Senior advocate Gopal Subramaniam and Anil Divan submitted a list of names for the panel of administrators in a sealed envelope to the court.
Calls made and text messages sent to Rahul Johri, chief executive officer of BCCI, were not answered.
“We have nothing to do with political boundaries, we are not a political party. BCCI is just a coordinating body between state cricket associations,” said Niranjan Shah, former secretary of the BCCI.
“We will follow the Supreme Court’s directive as always,” he added.
The case will be heard next on 24 January.
Pretika Khanna and Vidhi Choudhary contributed to this story.