Cricket in India is not a game but a religion having million of followers worldwide. The name BCCI itself makes things large, the wealthiest cricket body of the world with a net worth of 5000 crore was being ruled by the apex court for the first time ever. Not only the Indian fans and cricketers but also the renowned bodies of cricket like the ICC, Cricket Australia, Cricket S. Africa, etc. across the world were waiting eagerly for the Supreme Court’s verdict on Lodha Committee report.
It all began in May 2013 when few noted Indian cricketers and owners and co- owners of top favourite franchise got arrested on account of fraud, cheating and betting. The same month saw the IPL governing council appointing a three-member probe panel to look into the complaints against Gurunath and Kundra which concluded that there was “no evidence of any wrongdoing “by Kundra and Gurunath.
Then in October 2013, The Supreme Court constituted a 3 member probe panel comprising of Justice Mukul Mudgal, additional solicitor general L Nageshwar Rao and Nilay Dutta, to conduct its independent investigation into the above mentioned corruption allegations. And here The Mudgal probe panel’s first report found Gurunath and Kundra guilty.
FORMATION OF THE LODHA COMMITTEE
In January 2015 the Court appointed a 3 member panel, headed by former Chief Justice of India, RM Lodha, to decide on:
- The quantum of punishment for Meiyappan and Kundra and for the respective franchises, if necessary, which would be final and binding upon the BCCI and the parties concerned.
- To look into the role of Raman in the spot-fixing scandal and decide on a punishment, if necessary.
- To suggest amendments to the processes followed by the BCCI with a view to preventing sporting frauds and conflict of interests
- To make the board more responsive to public expectations
The Lodha committee presented before the SC a set of spearheading approbation. The committee’s report was divided into four parts:
- Determination of punishment for Gurunath Meiyappan, Raj Kundra and their franchises, and such similar issues.
- Conflict of interest, corruption, lack of transparency, etc. in BCCI.
- Detailing the questionnaire that was provided to the BCCI and stakeholders, among other things.
- Details of the Recommendations of the Mudgal Probe Committee, Report on Business Process Re-engineering commissioned by the KSCA etc.The Supreme Court on Monday July 18th ruled in favour of cricket by upholding almost all the recommendations of the R.M. Lodha Committee to reconstruct the cricket administration, at the end of a long hearing spanning over two years. During these two years the BCCI and State Associations fought bec et ongles to protect their turf. On effective implementation of the proposed recommendations of the Committee report, cricket will be more transparent and the spirit of the game will be validated.Justice R M Lodha Committee’s findings were “not cosmetic” but fundamental for laying foundations to enable BCCI to function in a “professional and transparent” manner to bring back cricket’s pristine form, the Supreme Court said.It should be noted that the panel had circulated a questionnaire to all the stakeholders of the game and made interactions with 75 persons in India, including former captains, international and first class players, coaches, managers, administrators, journalists, lawyers, club owners, selectors and a former chief justice of a high court.
The court said that based on the interactions and responses received from various quarters, the panel identified the problem areas in BCCI’s functioning and came to the conclusion that the apex cricketing body has been “suffering from many ills that had become endemic due to the apathy and involvement of those at the helm of the Board’s administration”.
The Supreme Court verdict accepting the Lodha Committee recommendations on age-cap of 70 years on BCCI office-bearers effectively meant the end of the road for veteran administrators like Sharad Pawar, N Srinivasan, and Niranjan Shah to name a few. The SC verdict, as per recommendations, will also mean that BCCI President Anurag Thakur (Himachal Pradesh), Secretary Ajay Shirke (Maharashtra), Treasurer Aniruddh Chaudhary (Haryana) and Joint Secretary Amitabh Chaudhary (Jharkhand) will have to forego their positions in their respective state associations to avoid “Conflict of Interest”.
“The truth is that resistance to change stems partly from people getting used to the status quo and partly because any change is perceived to affect their vested interest in terms of loss of ego, status, power or resources. This is true particularly when the suggested change is structural or organisational which involves some threat, real or perceived, of personal loss to those involved,” Chief Justice TS Thakur wrote in the 143-page judgment for the Bench.
Speaking to the media person’s senior BCCI functionary and IPL chairman Rajeev Shukla said “The BCCI respects Supreme Court’s verdict on sweeping reforms in the cricket board and it will work towards implementing the recommendations made by the Lodha panel”.
Soon the verdict by the Supreme Court became a trending topic amongst the sports fraternity on twitter and other social media. Here is an excerpt about what is the take of the former Indian cricketing fraternity.
“Let’s all accept Supreme Court’s verdict gracefully & humbly-after all isn’t health o Indn Crkt more imp than any personality pol/otherwise!” tweeted Bedi.
Kirti Azad too took to Twitter to express his views “my stand vindicated, #SupremeCourt accepts Justice Lodha committee report. Wait for my further action against #DDCA and #BCCI.”
“The ball is in BCCI’s court. Implementation has to be done by BCCI. BCCI needs to take note of the Supreme Court order and Lodha committee report. As far as I am concerned, all I want is transparency in sports,” said Vijay Goel
Lalit Modi tweeted, “Without a copy of report my first reactions are: Great outcome for justice and integrity. No surprise first honest decision on Indian cricket and it comes from outside the BCCI”.
Tweeting sarcastically upon the condition of BCCI former cricketer Ajay Memon stated’ “Supreme Court order has kept BCCI’s balance sheet intact: virtually everything else is up for chop/change/revise/recast”.