Till few years back, watching and following cricket also meant discussing and talking about Tendulkar and Lara, Steve Waugh and Pollock. Discussions would be centered on Laxman’s flick and Dravid’s defense. These days a new dimension has been added. Cricketing discussions these days include references to the Supreme Court and to Justice Lodha. There is talk about review petitions and the next Supreme Court hearing. Times have truly changed.

An ordinary cricket fan might be racking his brains over all the fuss with respect to the Lodha Committee. What is the Lodha Committee? What powers do they have? What is effect of the recommendations of the Committee on the game of cricket in India? We try to answer some of the questions that a cricket fan might have.

What is the Lodha Committee?

The Justice Lodha Committee was  formed under the directions of the Supreme Court of India  to determine appropriate punishments for Raj Kundra, Gurunath Meiyappan and their respective franchises and to propose changes to the BCCI’s functioning to streamline its functions and prevent sporting fraud and conflict of interest. The committee comprised of Justice Lodha, a retired Chief Justice of India, and retired Supreme Court judges, Justice Ashok Bhan and Justice R Raveendran.

What were some the recommendations of the Committee?

Some of the recommendations of the Committee were as follows:

  • Each State to have only vote. Currently states like Maharashtra had multiple votes due to multiple associations (Maharashtra, Mumbai, Vidharbha).
  • Restrict total tenure of office-bearers in any capacity to two terms, not exceeding six years. Tenure of president will not be longer than three years. Individuals above the age of 70 were prohibited from holding offices in the BCCI and state associations.
  • Selection committee to comprise only three members. Senior selection committee to be made up of former international Test cricketers, with the most capped former player among the three chairing the committee.

 Are these recommendations binding?

On July 18, 2016, the Supreme Court accepted the majority of the Lodha Committee recommendations and directed that the recommendations had to be implemented. The BCCI has no option but to implement these recommendations.

 Why is there a tussle between the BCCI and Lodha Committee?

The BCCI was given a timeline of September 30, 2016 to implement certain recommendations. The board failed to implement a majority of those recommendations within the deadline. The BCCI also rejected recommendations such as the age cap of 70 years for board officials, the tenure cap of nine years with cooling-off periods in between, and the one-state-one-vote policy, among others. Further it appears that the decisions taken by the BCCI at its AGM on September 21, 2016 – including the appointment of a five-member selection panel and the election of Mr. Ajay Shirke as secretary- are violating the Supreme Court court order issued on July 18.

What happens if the BCCI does not follow the Lodha Committee recommendations?

The BCCI has been directed by the Supreme Court to implement the recommendations. Not following them can amount to contempt of court and can lead to the BCCI office bearers losing their posts and even (in a worst case scenario) being arrested.

Are there any recommendations that have been accepted by the BCCI?

The BCCI claims that certain recommendations of the Lodha committee have been accepted by them. These include the induction of the representative of the Comptroller and Auditor General as the member of the Apex Council and the IPL Governing Council, the formation of the Apex Council to replace the working committee, putting in place various committees as recommended by the Lodha Committee, including the special committee for the differently abled and the women’s committee with the formation of the Players Association etc.

What happens next?

There is actually no way out of this for the BCCI.  The BCCI is planning to file a review petition but unless the mindset of the Supreme Court changes drastically that is unlikely to yield much joy to Thakur and Company. The BCCI has many legal luminaries in its working committee and it will be surprising if they are not aware of the consequences of not following the Supreme Court directives. They have also appointed Justice Markenday Katju as an advisor and there seems to be a carefully planned out strategy that is being implemented. It is the clash of heavyweights and is likely to be more interesting than India v England and India v Australia.

Will India’s cricket season be affected by this conflict?

If the BCCI are forced to stop disbursing funds to state associations then that might have an impact on the cricket season. Justice Lodha though has clarified that the BCCI’s activities will not be impacted.