The Lodha Committee in its latest status report before the Supreme Court, submitted on Monday, has asked for the removal of all BCCI office-bearers and the appointment of former home secretary GK Pillai as observer to preside over the functioning of the cricket board.
The panel doesn’t mind the BCCI CEO (Rahul Johri) carrying out the day-to-day operations, but wants an observer to oversee the cricket board’s administration, especially with reference to the “award of contracts, transparency norms, and audit”. The Committee, in its first status report (submitted on September 28), had asked for replacing the present cricket board office-bearers with a group of independent administrators.
The court, however, had rejected the plea, observing that it would be an “extreme option”. It stopped the BCCI’s funds disbursement to state associations instead. The latest recommendation appears less intrusive, for the cricket board’s CEO would still be at the helm of affairs, supervised by an observer. The Committee has recommended the removal of the office-bearers who should be “disqualified” as per the apex court’s July 18 order – those who do not meet the approved criteria specified in the Lodha panel report. The judgment had accepted the majority of the recommendations proposed by the Supreme Court-appointed Committee.
The Committee seeks the following directions from this Hon’ble Court:
1. Direct and declare that all Office Bearers of the BCCI and the State Associations who are disqualified by virtue of the norms at Para 4 above (removal clauses) cease to hold office forthwith.
2. Direct that all administrative and management matters be carried out by the CEO of the BCCI without advertence to the Office Bearers.
3. Appointment of Mr GK Pillai, former Union Home Secretary as the Observer of the BCCI to supervise the administration of the BCCI by the CEO and empower the Committee to appoint all necessary secretarial staff, assistance and fix remuneration as may be determined appropriate; and
4. Any other direction as may be deemed fit for the implementation of the judgment dated 18.7.2016,” the Committee mentioned in its report, while reiterating the cricket board’s “continued non-compliance” in following the recommendations in toto.
As per the Lodha Committee recommendations, approved by the court, an office-bearer of the BCCI or its affiliates stands disqualified upon reaching 70 years of age or serving office for a cumulative period of nine years. A minister or government servant is also debarred from holding any office in cricket administration. On September 30, the cricket board had called a general body meeting to discuss the implementation of the panel’s recommendations. The meeting had to be deferred to October 1 due to technical reasons. At the meeting, BCCI secretary Ajay Shirke had proposed the absolute implementation of the Lodha Committee recommendations, which was seconded by the cricket board president Anurag Thakur.
But all member associations save Vidarbha Cricket Association and Tripura Cricket Association opposed the motion. Another meeting on October 15, too, failed to resolve the impasse. Both Thakur and Shirke described the sequence of events in their respective affidavits before the Committee. On Sunday, however, Hyderabad Cricket Association became the third BCCI affiliate to embrace the Lodha reforms.
The Committee, meanwhile, has taken strong exception to the BCCI’s “defiance”. “Several Office Bearers at both the BCCI and the State Associations continue to hold the posts although they stand disqualified as per the Order of this Hon’ble Court. It is submitted that those individuals who fall foul of these norms be declared to cease to hold office forthwith,” it said in its third status report.
“While the day to day administration of the BCCI is presently carried out by the CEO and certain Managers who assist him in this regard, there would be a need to appoint an Observer who would guide the BCCI in its administration, particularly with reference to the award of contracts, transparency norms, audit, etc., for domestic, international and IPL cricket to be played hereafter,” it added.
In its October 21 order, the Supreme Court directed the Committee to appoint an independent auditor and set a threshold limit for the BCCI contracts. It also asked Thakur and Shirke to submit an “affidavit of compliance”, elaborating the recommendations that have been implemented and explaining the difficulties they are facing for certain clauses. The affidavits were duly submitted before the Committee, along with draft the minutes of the SGMs. The BCCI officials were certainly not expecting another stinging status report.
“It seems like the Lodha Committee is not interested in finding a solution to the problems. It seems that the Hon’ble Supreme Court wants the game to run smoothly, but the Committee thinks otherwise. It even called for the cancellation of the England series during the last court hearing. As per the court order, the Committee was supposed to appoint an auditor at the earliest and set a threshold value. It hasn’t done that yet and (without money) cricket in India is coming to a grinding halt,” a BCCI office-bearer told this paper demanding anonymity.
“The Lodha Committee recommendations disallow a government servant to become a BCCI office-bearer. At the same time, the panel is proposing that a former Union home secretary be appointed as observer,” he added.
Asked about the appointment of an independent auditor, a Lodha panel official said: “After the BCCI implements the Supreme Court judgment, the Committee will take a decision.” The next hearing is scheduled on December 5.
Courtesy: The Indian Express