Seemingly expecting “far reaching consequences” of the Lodha Committee report, the BCCI on Thursday asked to all its affiliated units to seek “expert opinion” on how the report would “affect” them and revert by the end of this month.
The three-member Lodha Committee, appointed by the Supreme Court in the wake of the 2013 IPL betting-fixing scandal, has given wide-ranging recommendations to restructure the BCCI, including bringing it under the ambit of the RTI Act, barring politicians/government servants from holding positions in the Board, and giving affiliation to all states.
The report has stirred the BCCI, which has staunchly refused to come under the RTI Act as, it argues, it doesn’t take financial assistance from the government.
On Thursday, BCCI secretary Anurag Thakur wrote to all 30 affiliated units to seek their views on the report, based on the legal opinion.
“You are aware that the Justice Lodha Committee appointed by the Honourable Supreme Court has submitted its report and we have received a copy of the same,” Thakur said in his letter to the associations that was also released to the media.
“It is advised that you convene a meeting of your managing committee/board before the 31 January and discuss the implications of the recommendations made by the Justice Lodha Committee,” he said. “As some of the recommendations have far reaching consequences, it may be advisable to seek an expert opinion as to how the same would affect your association.”
Here is a synopsis of the key recommendations of the three-member RM Lodha Committee report, submitted with the Supreme Court on 4 January:
- Membership (‘One State, One Vote’): Only cricket associations representing the states would have voting rights as Full Members of the Board, thereby ensuring equality among the territorial divisions. Any other existing members would be Associate Members.
- Zones (‘Zones for Tournaments alone’): The zones would be relevant only for the purpose of the tournaments conducted amongst themselves, but not for nomination to the governance of the Board or to the various Standing Committees.
- State Associations (‘State Associations – Uniformity in Structure’): The Associations that are the Members would necessarily have to restrict the tenures of office-bearers and prescribe disqualifications, do away with proxy voting, provide transparency in functioning, be open to scrutiny and audit by the BCCI and include players in membership and management. They would also have to abide by the conflict of interest policy prescribed by the Board, and divorce the Association from the social club, if any.
- Office Bearers (‘Limited Tenures & Cooling Off’): While all the existing office bearers (president, vice-presidents, secretary, treasurer and joint secretary) are retained in honorary positions, the number of vice-presidents is pruned from five to one. Their duties have been realigned. The president is shorn of his say in selections. The additional vote for the president at meetings is deleted. The terms of these office-bearers continue to be of 3 years, but with a maximum of 3 such terms regardless of the post held, with a cooling off period after each such term.
- Governance (‘Governance separated from management’): The 14-member working committee is replaced by a nine-member Apex Council (with one-third independent members) consisting of the office-bearers of the BCCI, an elected representative of the general body, two representatives of the Players Association (one man and one woman) and one nominee from the C&AG’s office. Terms of eligibility and disqualification are specified with a bar on Ministers and government servants.
- Management (‘Professionalism in management’): Professionalism is brought in by introducing a CEO with strong credentials assisted by a team of managers to handle non-cricketing affairs. The large number of Standing Committees and sub-committees created by the BCCI has been reduced to two essential ones that would advise the CEO with reference to tours, technical aspects and tournaments. The selection, coaching, performance evaluation and umpiring are to be handled by Cricket Committees manned only by former professionals. Specific provisions have been made to encourage cricket for women and the differently-abled.
- The IPL (‘Limited Autonomy for IPL’): The Governing Council of the IPL is reduced to 9, but includes 2 representatives of the Franchisees and nominees of the Players’ Association and the C&AG’s office.
- Players (‘A voice for Players’): There shall be a Cricket Players’ Association affording membership to all international and most first-class men and women retired cricketers. This Association shall discharge assigned functions with the financial support of the BCCI. It shall be brought into existence by an independent steering committee.
- Agents (‘Arms length for agents’): Players’ interests are protected by ensuring that their agents are registered under the prescribed norms administered by the BCCI and the Players’ Cricket Association.
- Conflict of Interest (‘Avoidance of conflicts’): Detailed norms have been laid down to ensure there is no direct or indirect, pecuniary or other conflict or appearance thereof in the discharge of the functions of those persons associated or employed by the BCCI, its committees, its members or the IPL Franchisees. These norms shall be administered by an Ethics Officer.
- The Ombudsman and the Electoral Officer (‘Independent monitors’): Provision has been made to have an independent ombudsman to resolve grievances of Members, Administrators, Players and even members of the public as per the procedures laid down. Similarly, an independent Electoral Officer to oversee the entire electoral process is also mandated.
- Functioning (‘Transparency’): The BCCI must provide the relevant information in discharge of its public functions. All rules and regulations, norms, details of meetings, expenditures, balance sheets, reports and orders of authorities are to be uploaded on the website as well.
- Oversight (‘Accountability’): An independent auditor to verify how the Full Members have expended the grants given to them by the BCCI, to record their targets and milestones, and to submit a separate compliance report in this regard.
- Betting & Match-fixing (‘Legalisation for betting and Criminalisation for match-fixing’): A recommendation is made to legalise betting (with strong safeguards), except for those covered by the BCCI and IPL regulations. Also a recommendation for match/spot-fixing to be made a criminal offence.
- Ethics for Players (‘Awareness and sensitization’): Provisions to be made for lectures, classes, handbooks, and mentoring of young players.
“The Committee fervently hopes that this report will bring cricket fans back to the fold and put an end to regional excesses and imbalances, reign by cliques, corruption and red tape, all of which have harmed the game and the youngsters looking for nothing more than to take the field in flannels,” said the report under the chapter ‘key recommendations’.