Supreme Court verdict on BCCI is the final word: Justice Lodha

Reacting to the report of the former Supreme Court judge Markandey Katju to the BCCI that the Supreme Court judgment on reforms in the cricketing body is “unconstitutional”, the former Chief Justice of India R.M. Lodha, who headed a committee that recommended the reforms, said here on Tuesday the court’s verdict was the “final word” in the dispute.

“What is the legal validity [of Justice Katju’s report]? The only way is for the BCCI to approach the Supreme Court. I have told [BCCI secretary] Mr. [Ajay] Shirke that we are doing what is mandated in the Supreme Court judgment of July 18,” Justice Lodha said in an interview to The Hindu over the phone.

Justice Lodha’s reactions came after hearing Mr. Shirke earlier in the day.

Justice Katju, appointed by the BCCI to advise on the reforms and the court judgment, on Sunday accused the court of judicial activism for interfering in the working of a private registered society.

In the July 18 judgment, Chief Justice Thakur dismissed the contention while holding that the freedom under Article 19 (1) (c) was guaranteed only to “citizens and citizens alone”, and the court was only ushering in reform to inspire public confidence in the Board and the game.

Asked if he thought the BCCI was facing genuine difficulties or was it stalling the implementation of the reforms, Justice Lodha said Mr. Shirke “broached” to the panel certain difficulties during the meeting.

“The Supreme Court pronounced the judgment after affording them [the BCCI and its members] full opportunity to voice their difficulties and their reactions to the committee’s recommendations. Mr. Shirke said the BCCI is filing a review petition. I said they were entitled to do so. It is their legal right,” Justice Lodha said.

A review petition, if filed, would come up before a Bench led by Chief Justice Thakur.

Justice Lodha said the panel gave the BCCI specific timelines to complete the transition in six months as directed by the Supreme Court. “This is the first phase of timelines. We have given them a schedule of 11 or 12 items to be completed by September 30. These include amendments to the Memorandum of Association, rules and regulations of the BCCI; amendments to the constitution and bylaws of the States associations; amendments to the Indian Premier League rules; most subjects of notification like players’ steering panel, players’ association, etc. A few other tasks have been scheduled to be done before October 15,” Justice Lodha said.

Justice Lodha said Mr. Shirke offered to file an action-taken report on August 25. “Some of these actions require multiple changes,” he said. Asked about the court’s directive to the Lodha committee to consider the BCCI’s objections to including representatives of IPL franchisees in the IPL governing council, Justice Lodha said Mr. Shirke had offered to give his comments on the issue in two or three days.

The Board had objected to the recommendation on the ground that it would lead to a conflict of interest as the council decides on players’ retention policy and umpire selection. The court had referred the recommendation back to the Lodha committee for a re-look while observing that the reform would deemed to be approved by the court if the committee chose to reiterate it.