Qaiser Mohammad Ali
Some of the landmark and welcome steps — including the uploading of the BCCI’s constitution on its website — that the Board under its new president Shashank Manohar has taken were done on “specific instructions” from the Lodha Committee.
That is what a source close to the three-member Lodha Committee to suggest administrative reforms in the BCCI, has revealed. The Supreme Court had constituted the committee in the aftermath of the 2013 IPL betting-fixing scandal.
The source disclosed to jantakareporter.com that the Lodha Committee had told Manohar to get the BCCI constitution uploaded, besides other specific things like the need for it to become more transparent, when it met him on October 3, a day before he took over the BCCI reins for a second stint.
The Lodha Committee, said the source, enquired from Manohar about steps being taken to register players’ agents, so that players could be “insulated” from “extraneous influences” [read corruptors].
The committee comprising three former Supreme Court judges also told the BCCI president that the Board should increase the frequency of interaction with the media and bring about transparency regarding selection of teams etc.
When pointed out that the BCCI under Manohar has taken several welcome steps vis-à-vis increasing transparency, including making the BCCI public for the first time, the source pointedly said, “That was at our instance.”
“The Lodha Committee had specifically told Shashank Manohar that he must do this, which is why he did it. It was a specific direction given to him. The committee met him the day before he took over as BCCI president. It asked him why it was that the BCCI was so obdurate in putting things up on its website,” the source told jantakareporter.com
The source said that many areas of BCCI’s functioning were discussed with Manohar, himself a lawyer by profession.
“By and large, it was about how the constitution and the by-laws were abused [so far]. One thing was specifically told to him and it was that all the steps that the BCCI would now take should be put on its website,” he said.
In his maiden press conference after taking over, Manohar had announced that he would take several steps and asked for two months’ time – coincidentally, almost the same time left for the Lodha Committee to submit its report with the Supreme Court (by December end).
One such step Manohar announced was that from now on details of all BCCI financial transactions worth Rs 25 lakh and above would be uploaded on its website.
“There must be widespread publicity [of BCCI activities] and interactions with the media/journalist must increase regarding players and the matches they play etc. because it was felt that there was not enough transparency about the selections [of teams] were proceeding,” said the source. “Since, then the media interactions have also increased, we understand.”
The source further disclosed, “We also asked about players’ agents and about the steps taken regarding registration of players’ agents, thus insulating players from extraneous influences.”
The first time registration of players’ agents was recommended by Ravi Sawani, who as one-man inquiry commission into the 2012 sting on cricketers done by a TV channel. In his scathing 36-page report, Sawani, who a year later founded the BCCI’s Anti-Corruption Unit, had described some agents as “predators lurking around” players and sought a ban on those who didn’t get themselves registered.
The BCCI disciplinary committee, on the basis of the Sawani report, had banned five players for various periods. Deccan Chargers pacer TP Sudhindra was banned for life, Kings XI Punjab pacer Shalabh Srivastava for five years while Amit Yadav (Kings XI Punjab), Mohnish Mishra (Pune Warriors India) and Abhinav Bali (Himachal Pradesh) were handed one-year suspensions.
The information that the Lodha Committee has collected is mind boggling, the source informed.
“We have enough material. We have spent more than 200 hours on interviews and got more than 20,000 pages of material. So, there’s very little that we now don’t know how they [BCCI] function,” he said.
“These material contain BCCI documents, state associations’ documents, audit reports, lots of representations by people from across the country, news reports, international sports reports, books on match-fixing and cricket administration, many court judgements, loads and loads of people have written to us,” the source informed. “A lot of unsolicited material has come and it gives us the discretion of using what we want and ignoring what don’t [want].”
Apart from that, the Lodha Committee, at the start of its inquest, had sent out 82 specific questions to a wide variety of persons connected with cricket administration to answer. It also summoned many persons to appear before it.
The source said that “over 70 people” have appeared in person before the panel and that the interviews are now over.
“All the interviews are done. The committee has met and interviewed more than 70 people, and the number whose inputs have been taken is 100. Some of the inputs taken from these 100 people are on phone, on email and in writing,” the source. “Now, preparations are on for [writing] the report.”
He said that among those who have appeared before the committee include officials of the BCCI’s state associations. “Lots of them, almost all the states [have appeared],” he said.
The source said that unlike the earlier plan of a separate report on IPL COO Sundar Raman, who is also under the Supreme Court scanner his role in the IPL betting-fixing scandal, the final Lodha Committee report would comprise a portion on him.
“The final report should be out by the end of December. A report on Sundar Raman will be part of the final report,” he said.
A two-member Supreme Court bench had appointed the Lodha Committee – retired Supreme Court Judges Ashok Bhan and RV Raveendran, being the other members — while delivering the landmark judgement in the 2013 IPL betting-fixing scandal on January 22.
The bench gave the Lodha Committee six months to submit its report, expiring on July 21.
On July 14, the committee in its first report recommended life bans on Chennai Super Kings official Gurunath Maiyappan and Rajasthan Royals’ part-owner Raj Kundra, besides two-year suspensions of Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals teams. The Supreme Court upheld both recommendations.
Later, the Lodha Committee sought an extension of deadline from the Supreme Court and got time till December 31 to file its final report, which will be largely on administrative reforms in the 86-year-old BCCI.