Why BCCI Batting Against Apex Court?

Lodha Committee and BCCI should come down from their stands to break impasse. It should allow BCCI to decide on issues it knows best and insist on transparency in administration

By Veturi Srivatsa

There are similarities between Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) President Anurag Thakur, though both belong to different political parties fighting each other in Delhi and elsewhere.

Kejriwal spends his time accusing Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Centre of not allowing him to function while Thakur says the Supreme Court appointed Justice Rajendra Mal Lodha Committee is asking him to run cricket after tying both his hands behind his back.

Both Modi and the Supreme Court are unmoved and Justice Lodha tells the Board that it is only carrying out the apex court’s instructions. The BCCI tried to tell the court and Justice Lodha that all cricket activity can come to a standstill, including visits of overseas teams and domestic tournaments. It didn’t work: Chief Justice Tirath Singh Thakur wouldn’t take any veiled threats and told the Board “season or no season” it has to fall in line.

Domestic cricket is going on and the New Zealanders have gone back after their tour and now England are here getting ready for the first Test at the new Rajkot Test centre next week. Yet, not a day passes without sniping from either side.

It is not easy to cancel a tour unless the Board or the visiting team decides to do so and for that you need strong reasons. The West Indies called off its India tour midway over a pay dispute. Here the players have no such issue and not many active or former cricketers have come out openly to criticize the BCCI for the way it is running the game.

Associations are happy that they have been able to construct state-of-art stadia and former players are happy that they are getting a fair amount as pension — even those who have played only one Test get the full amount. A lot of older players are happy that the pension is as good as what the government employees get and it takes care of their pocket and medical expenses.

It’s hilarious to find the way the Lodha Committee and the Board are fighting through “sources close to” those leaking statements. And both complain about the language used by the other in their public spats. Threats apart, any flare-up can still cause disruption of England’s Test and One-Day series, leading to unimaginable damage to the game itself.

For all queries raised by the Board, the answer from the Lodha Committee is a simple line: The committee cannot give any direction until and unless an undertaking is given that the Board would adopt the reforms in full as recommended by the Lodha panel and validated by the Supreme Court.

The BCCI is a bit embarrassed as it was in no position to sign the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the visiting England team before the series gets underway. The MoU pertains to team’s various allowances, including accommodation, travel and security.

The Board secretary has written to the ECB, the English board, of its inability to sign the MoU as it needed clearance from the Lodha Committee. The committee, however, rejected the Board’s claim saying that the MoU is a bilateral agreement not within the panel’s purview. As for any payments, the Board has to furnish details for clearance.

The two also have differing opinions on the Indian Premier League (IPL) television rights. When the Board approached the committee, it shot back to say that “neither identification nor appointment of vendors or contractors is the task or function of the committee. The committee is only required to fix a threshold value and approve awards of contracts above it”.

The Board is supposed to have met the committee to sort out the issues and inform it that it would fully comply with the reforms by Thursday, November 3, but it has not done so.

The Board will have to give the undertaking to the court. It continues to harp on reservations about certain recommendations which it says have to be approved by the respective state associations and some of them need a three-fourths majority to get through. All payments to the association have also been stopped by the court till they comply with the recommendations.

Both the Lodha Committee and the Board should come down from their avowed stands to break the impasse. The committee should allow the Board to decide on issues it knows the best about and insist on transparency in the administration.

All that needs to be done is to call for the audited accounts of the state associations and get them scrutinised by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India, which the Board in any case has accepted, leaving the number of selectors and one state one vote for the Board to decide on.

Yes, the issue of the age limit must be insisted on and as for the cap on term of office it should ask the Board to follow its old rule that no president will have more than one term of three years and the secretary of five years without getting into a cooling-off period before another term.

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Crusader Against BCCI Corruption

A surprise choice for the tour of Australia and New Zealand in 1980-81, Kirti Jha Azad has been surprising both the government and the opposition by remaining at loggerheads both inside and outside the government for making Indian cricket a gentlemen’s game in true sense. He tried to do this from his own Delhi Sports Council by alleging Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and paid the price politically.

However, the suspended BJP lawmaker from Darbhanga is again firing from all his cylinders against the political masters not allowing the Supreme Court to wash out the corruption ridden Board of Cricket Control in India (BCCI). Madhav Jha talks to Kirti Jha Azad and fishes out his views on the continued sleuth between the Supreme Court and the BCCI. Edited excerpts:

It’s more than ten months since the Lodha Committee submitted its report but the BCCI still not giving any sign of its implementation……

(Interrupts) The BCCI and its affiliates are not agreeing to it because they have used, misused and abused the government offices in the past. But, sooner or later they would realize that it’s a judicial order which you can’t disobey at all. They are committing series of contempt but at the end they will have to implement the fantastic judgment that has come out of the Justice Lodha Committee’s recommendations.  

The Supreme Court reprimanding the BCCI for delay in implementing Lodha Committee recommendations, reflects about BCCI bosses thinking themselves above the law?

Well, yes. Some political masters of the BCCI feel exactly the same. Over the years, the BCCI has blatantly violated the law on the land, and major reason behind this are the political masters who want to have their say into the BCCI matters. Here, I would like to add that all political parties are equally guilty into it, whether it is ruling or its opposition, UPA or the NDA, all of them have behaved as if they are above the law. Clearly, it is going to end after the Lodha episode and Supreme Court looking determined to get its recommendations implemented.

Whom do you think is guiding or misguiding BCCI Chief Anurag Thakur?

Surely there has to be some people from the government. And I feel it could be Arun Jaitely because Anurag thakur is very close to him and I don’t think Anurag Thakur has that kind of brain to fight with the judiciary and stand against it. With due respect to Arun Jaitely’s knowledge of law I think he (Anurag Thakur) needs to go and refresh his knowledge of law.

Some sections of the people are talking about the whole episode becoming Chief Justice TS Thakur versus BCCI Chief Anurag Thakur.

Look! I am not going to be judgmental about the working of Supreme Court any more. I think its Supreme Court versus all the loopholes of BCCI.  As I said earlier, the BCCI will have to fall in line and follow the judgment of Apex court.

But, some of the Lodha Committee’s recommendations like age capping, one state one vote etc have split the cricket greats too?

In my opinion, Lodha Committee is spot on when it talks about age capping and one state one vote. In all walks of life, there is a time when people retire, so what’s wrong if the Lodha Committee recommends about the age capping for cricket administrators? People there at the BCCI are not ready to vacate because there is lot of money, free publicity and reputation across the India. So, they are only enjoying all the perks instead of exploring cricket dimension.

Similarly, one state one vote pattern would bring equality for all states and nullify any probable due advantage to some of the states like Maharashtra, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal. You would be astonished to know that six out of seven eastern states don’t have the membership of the BCCI. Bihar, which is third most populous state of India, is one of those six eastern states.

Kindly elaborate your stand on the one vote one state recommendation.

Look. One vote one state would pave way for membership to the BCCI for all Indian states which is not the case today. States like Maharashtra have four votes while Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal have 3, 2 and 2 votes respectively. Then you have universities who don’t play at all. You have two government offices like Railways and Services who also constitute the BCCI Board. Therefore, states which have more than one vote are at the advantageous position and hence are dominant into the BCCI managing committee and other administrative positions of the BCCI.

Cricketing greats like Sunil Gavaskar and Kapil Dev have also questioned about the one state one vote system. Any comment on their stand?

With due respect to both great players and individuals and it was great to be with them when India won the World Cup in 1983. But, this time, I think they don’t know the hypocrisy involved in India cricket. I think they also don’t know about the number of states in the playing position and to represent India in world cricket.

And what about the three member selection committee not enough to represent the whole nation?

All these arguments are baseless. If this is correct then why there is zonal rotation? When you have five selectors from five zones, are you making zonal India team or national India team? You have selectors in the state too. They can easily accumulate to the youngsters who can come up to play at national level.

The Lodha Committee has recommended setting aside the politicians. You are both politician and cricket administrator. If the recommendations are implemented, what would you choose?

What Lodha Committee has recommended through keeping politicians away from cricket administration is to showcase the ministers and government officials supported by their ministers being involved into this whole malpractice. Simply being a member parliament doesn’t mean you should be barred from the BCCI governing body.

But, yes, being a cricketer, I have represented my country and have retired from all forms of cricket. Today, I don’t get enough time for my constituency and hence I would prefer to continue in politics and let the BCCI activities being taken care of by the new and younger people.   

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