The Supreme Court today pulled up the BCCI for resisting the Justice R M Lodha-led committee’s recommendation on capping the age of its office bearers to 70 years , observing “when politicians now a days are retiring at that age then why can’t you quit”.
“Why 70, you should quit at 60. Now a days even politicians are being forced to retire at 70, then why can’t the officer bearers of BCCI do it. Persons above the age of 70 and having wisdom and experience can be given advisory roles. There is a limit when you should say enough is enough,” a bench headed by Chief Justice T S Thakur said.
The bench also comprising Justice F M I Kalifulla, referred to former BCCI president Jagmohan Dalmiya who died at the age of 75 and said he was not able to communicate during his last days.
“The past president of BCCI (Jagmohan Dalmiya) could not communicate. Why did those who elected him could not see why they were electing him? BCCI president has been given five years more than Supreme Court judges. Can you suppose a situation when a president of BCCI could not communicate. A person managing the affairs of cricket should be physically agile” the bench said.
Senior advocate Arvind Dattar appearing for Tamil Nadu Cricket Association said that some recommendations of Lodha panel could not be implemented.
“Lodha panel was formed to look into the allegations of spot fixing but it went on to recommend structural reforms which was not possible to implement due to the laws and bye-laws of cricket associations,” he said.
“Betting, match-fixing were deep rooted diseases. It is the root which has been found by the committee. The disease (in BCCI) was so deep rooted that it could not have been healed with medicines. It needed proper diagnosis and a surgery which was important. Hence a competent committee of dedicated, committed and honest doctors was formed to do it,” said the Supreme Court.
To this Dattar said, “It was actually a Chemotherapy”.
The bench also pulled up the apex cricket body on advertisements aired during the matches and asked it whether the person sitting in a drawing room or bedroom has any stake in cricket or not.
The apex court further said, “Your revenue depends on the viewership. They have a stake and their interest needs to be protected. They have a right to watch uninterrupted cricket matches. People watching the matches at cricket stadiums are on a different footing as they have purchased tickets to watch matches.”
Orissa Cricket Association also opposed the recommendation of one state-one vote saying that territorial classification recommendation of Lodha panel is not a correct classification and can’t be mechanically implemented as irreparable loss would happen to the games.
“This territorial classification would result in down spin of the game if associations from North-east become full members and made to play against stronger teams,” senior advocate K V Vishwanathan appearing for Orissa Cricket Association said.
To this the bench said, “What is your problem, weaker teams will get beaten? You don’t want to play against Nagaland or Sikkim? You don’t want to waste your time. People used to laugh when Bangladesh, Zimbabwe and Afghanistan started playing. But look at the turn around in these teams. Just see what is Bangladesh doing.”
Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh appearing for Railways Sports Promotion Board and Services Sports Control Board opposed the Lodha panel’s recommendation to downgrade them to associate members of the BCCI and taking away their voting rights.
“We have our own infrastructure, own parameters for talent hunt and none of the parameters are against us. We are the founding members of BCCI and our right in decision-making can’t be taken away by taking away our votes and dowgrading us to associate members,” he said.
The hearing remained inconclusive and will continue on May 2.
The fight between different factions of cricket associations in Bihar also came up for deliberations as the cricket bodies like Cricket Association of Bihar (CAB) and Bihar Cricket Associations which are fighting to take control over the game.
No fund has been disbursed by BCCI since 2009 for development of the game in Bihar as the erstwhile association had not given the account of Rs 50 lakh given to it.
The current proceedings in the apex court is the outcome of the petition filed by CAB through its secretary Aditya Kumar Verma who has alleged large scale irregularities.
The apex court had on April 25 pulled up BCCI for “monopolizing” cricket in the country and had said several youngsters wanting to be Dhonis and Kohlis are not given equal opportunity if they are not on the right side of the cricket body.
The apex court had appointed senior advocate Gopal Subramanium as amicus curiae in the matter and sought his assistance to explore as to how the recommendations of Justice R M Lodha committee favouring large-scale structural reforms, which BCCI and other boards have been resisting, could be implemented.