Source: The Hitavada      Date: 11 Aug 2018 11:00:32

COMING after a long-drawn legal battle that saw the apex court-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA) consistently pulling up the stubborn officials of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) over non-implementation of reforms suggested by the Justice Rajendra Mal Lodha committee, the Supreme Court has given its final word, thus putting in place a clear process for smooth transition in the cricket’s richest body’s administration. The approval of draft Constitution, after making certain telling modifications, has come as a partial relief for BCCI but it has also put the office-bearers on a 30-day notice to get their house in order or face stringent action.

Though some may see the Supreme Court ruling on the “one-state, one-vote” policy and “cooling off” period as dilution of the reforms suggested by the Lodha committee, it was a prudent step to ensure fairness to all stakeholders of the game who have made signal contributions in development of cricket for decades.

The apex court has rightly restored the full membership of four legacy cricket associations of Vidarbha, Mumbai, Saurashtra and Baroda taking into consideration their long and abiding history of nurturing talent for the game. The four associations were relegated to the status of associate members as per the Lodha committee recommendations that sought to bring about uniformity in the structure of management and domestic equality by keeping one unit from one state as principal member and giving voting rights on rotational basis. However, there was no clarity on the legal principle applied for adopting a rotational policy. The three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, has done justice to these associations by giving due respect to their history and contributions towards Indian cricket instead of going by territoriality as a basis of exclusion.

The ruling on having a mandatory “cooling off” period of three years after two terms of three years each is also a pragmatic approach towards honouring efficiency and utilisation of experience of a human being. The principal order of July 18, 2016 had fixed the compulsory “cooling off” period after just one term of three years to ensure that “vested interests do not emerge out of the indefinite continuation in office of one or more individuals”. While the concern expressed was right to a certain extent that sports bodies should not be converted into fiefdom by a powerful few, it was based on a negative perception of officials indulging in mal-administration only.

The evolving nature of the game and rapid changes in the administrative structures in cricketing bodies all over the world necessitates a longer tenure for an individual to gain requisite experience and contribute to the game. Two consecutive terms, instead of only one term of three years, in the office is good enough time to carry out duties and it also avoids the threat of monopoly of power.

For the BCCI, the apex court ruling does not leave any room to drag its feet on adopting the new Constitution. The court has addressed its key concerns and the present dispensation of office-bearers now cannot escape the truth that it is time to make way for a new generation of administrators. The BCCI is set for a new beginning since the 70-year age cap and nine-year term cap will wipe out the entire old order ruling the Board for all these years. None of the present office-bearers qualifies to seek re-election in the next general body and it would be wise to wake up to this reality and adopt the reforms before the last window offered by the top court is shut on their face.

In fact, the stubborn BCCI officials were always fighting a lost legal battle, trying to avoid the Lodha reforms. Despite their hectic efforts to keep the CoA at bay and finding newer ways to circumvent the apex court orders, it was just a matter of time before they were made to comply with the verdict. A clear roadmap is now in place with a timeline for the BCCI to act upon the Supreme Court ruling and take a fresh guard by holding elections.