BCCI looks for wriggle room ahead of meeting with Lodha Committee

The BCCI is at wits’ end trying to extricate itself from the quagmire that it finds itself in following the Supreme Court order of July 18, directing the Board to carry out radical reforms as recommended by the Justice Lodha committee.

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Board president Anurag Thakur and secretary Ajay Shrike have been summoned by the Justice Lodha committee for a meeting in New Delhi on August 9, and the widespread understanding in cricketing circles is that the three-member committee will draw timelines for the BCCI and the State associations to implement its recommendations on governance and management structure in a concurrent manner.

While disposing the public interest litigation concerned, the Supreme Court said: “…the BCCI and all concerned shall cooperate and act in aid of the Committee and its directives. Should any impediments arise, the Committee shall be free to seek appropriate directions from this Court by filing a status report in that regard.”

Subsequent to receiving the summons from the Lodha Committee, the BCCI held a working committee meeting in Mumbai and a Special General Meeting in New Delhi, appointed a four-member committee including retired Supreme Court judge Markandey Katju to play the Board’s interface and even decided to file a review petition with the Apex Court.

A BCCI release on Saturday said that Justice Katju would present the interim report to the BCCI on Sunday in New Delhi.

A source said the timelines would be drawn for the BCCI and the State associations. “It has to happen simultaneously, not just at the BCCI-level but also at the State associations-level. The order says that the implementation has to be completed within four, or at the most six, months,” explained this official who is well-versed with the legal aspects.

The BCCI probably already knows what the outcome of the review petition would be; its last review petition against the Supreme Court order appointing the Lodha Committee was rejected in the CJI’s chamber. The BCCI is merely taking a chance with the review petition, and the member units have been asked to submit grievances to the BCCI legal counsel Abhinav Mukerjee.

While Thakur did not offer any response to the Supreme Court order of July 18, IPL chairman Rajiv Shukla said: “The BCCI will respect the judgement and discuss the procedure for implementation at a meeting.”

Almost a fortnight ago, the Mumbai Cricket Association announced at a press conference after its executive committee meeting that it had decided to accept the verdict in toto.

MCA president Sharad Pawar had said: “The committee discussed the Supreme Court decision on the basis of Justice Lodha Committee recommendations and unanimously approved it. It was a conscious decision to accept the report in full. I respect the judiciary.”

But the members who attended the SGM at New Delhi on Friday also heard Pawar say that he had taken up the matter with the highest authority in the country. Members also believe that Jay Shah, the joint-secretary of the Gujarat Cricket Association, would have broached the consequences of the Supreme Court order with his father, the BJP president Amit Shah, and the matter would thus have reached Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who incidentally was president of the Gujarat Cricket Association for nearly five years from September 2009.

None of the members in the BCCI have an idea of what the powerful axis — Pawar, Shah and Rajeev Shukla — can achieve. They are all on the same page when it comes to cricketing matters.

“This matter could be settled in the Parliament,” said a State official after the working committee meeting here on August 2. All attention will now be on the Justice Lodha committee’s meeting with the BCCI officials on Tuesday. The Supreme Court order is very decisive: set timelines for the BCCI and the State units to implement the “Reforms in Cricket” recommendations.