India’s power elite — the ministers and IAS officers — have been barred from holding any position in the richest sports body, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).
Accepting the bulk of the reform measures proposed by the Justice R M Lodha committee, a two judge bench of the Supreme Court comprising current Chief Justice of India TS Thakur and Justice Ibrahim Kalifulla has clipped the wings of the BCCI bosses in a clean-up act.
The ‘no ministers, no babus’ stipulation comes with additional riders like an age cap of 70 for office-bearers, each state having one vote, non-territorial members like Railways and Services not having any vote, and office bearers in state associations being barred from holding positions in the BCCI. The number of vice-presidents in the BCCI has been cut down from five to one.
The practical implications of these restrictions would be huge in a closed 32 member organisation, where one could cling to some position of power for all times to come. As Justice Lodha remarked, “There is no transparency in BCCI, and no accountability. Same persons are running the board for decades. If 70-year-old people are running BCCI, how will young administrators get the chance? Having no ministers in BCCI will help as they have more important thing to do. Cricket is full-time job.”
The Supreme Court’s directive has to be implemented within four to six months and a major fall out would be that long term cricket bosses — like Sharad Pawar (Mumbai), N. Srinivasan (Tamil Nadu) and Niranjan Shah (Saurashtra) who also lead their respective state associations and are all above 70 years would stand to lose their positions.
While requesting Justice Lodha to draw appropriate timelines for implementation of the recommendations and supervise the process, the apex court said: “The transition from the old to the new system recommended by the Committee shall have to be under the watchful supervision of this court. The supervision of the transition can, in our opinion, be left to be undertaken by the Committee not only because it has a complete understanding of and insight into the nature of the problems sought to be remedied…. the process may be time consuming but we hope that the same should be completed within a period of four months or at best six months from today”.
Even as BCCI president Anurag Thakur did not comment on the judgment, IPL chairman Rajeev Shukla, who is also a senior functionary of the Uttar Pradesh Cricket Association, said:”We will study the judgment in our next meeting” scheduled in September.
However, it remains to be seen how the new one-state-one-vote policy is implemented considering that states like Maharashtra and Gujarat have multiple units with voting rights, and the court has ordered “rotational” voting.