In a major blow to the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), the Supreme Court on Friday severely curtailed its financial powers till the cricketing body and its state associations comply with the RM Lodha committee’s recommendations.
A bench headed by Chief Justice TS Thakur said that the Lodha panel will appoint an independent auditor to scrutinise and audit the income received and expenditure incurred by the BCCI. It said the board cannot enter into contracts above a monetary ceiling that will now be fixed by the panel and that BCCI would have to seek its approval if it wants a contract relating to media rights, ground rights, etc, above the
It asked the auditor to oversee the tendering process that will be undertaken by BCCI as well as the award of “contracts above a threshold value to be fixed by the committee; the award of contracts by BCCI above the threshold fixed by the committee shall be subject to the prior approval of the committee”.
The Lodha panel can seek advice of the auditors on the fairness of the tendering process adopted by BCCI and will determine whether a proposed contract above the threshold value should be approved, the apex court said.
The BCCI’s stand has been that it cannot implement the Lodha Committee’s recommendations without a majority of its state associations agreeing to do so. The key recommendations the board said the states were reluctant to accept were the one-state-one-vote policy, the age cap of 70 for administrators, and the limit of three three-year terms with cooling-off periods in between for office bearers.
The apex court also restrained the BCCI from distributing any funds to its state associations until they implemented the reforms.“After such a resolution is passed and before any disbursement of funds takes place to the state association concerned, a copy of the resolution shall be filed before the committee and before this court, together with an affidavit of the president of the state association undertaking to abide by the reforms contained in the report of the committee, as modified by this court. Any transfer of funds shall take place to the state associations which have accepted these terms only after compliance is effected,” it said.
The top court also asked BCCI president Anurag Thakur and secretary Ajay Shirke to meet the committee before November 3 and also extended their time to file an undertaking before the apex court till December 3. Thakur has been asked to indicate a roadmap on how the Lodha panel recommendations will be implemented.
Additionally, the court asked the Lodha panel to inform the International Cricket Council (ICC) of the recommendations to revamp cricket administration in India. The case will be heard next on December 5.
The appointment of auditors is significant as the multi-million dollar Indian Premier League (IPL) media rights are to be awarded for the next 10 years, starting 2018. Sony Pictures Networks holds the current IPL media rights till 2017, which it won with a huge $1.6 billion bid.
Friday’s order came in response to the Lodha panel’s status report that recommended that BCCI office bearers be “superseded” and a panel of administrators be appointed because the board was not complying with the the court-approved recommendations.
The court had earlier hinted that replacing the BCCI office bearers would be an “extreme measure” and had asked amicus curiae Gopal Subramanium to recommend additional measures to ensure compliance. Subramanium had asked for all funding to be stopped to states that refused to comply and that future BCCI contracts go through the Lodha panel.