Decoded: What does SC verdict on BCCI’s new constitutional amendments mean?
The Supreme Court (SC) has the paved way for a second term in office for Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) President Sourav Ganguly and Honorary Secretary Jay Shah by allowing amendment of the board’s constitution.
The SC verdict surprised many as the Court made a departure from its 2018 order where it had put a stamp on the Justice R M Lodha committee’s recommendations mandating that no office bearer should continue in any office — whether a state association or the BCCI or both — for more than six years. A cooling-off period of three years was also mandated before an office bearer could return to the office following election.
Why did this happen? And what other changes made by the BCCI to its constitution have been approved? Let’s take a look:
What is a cooling-off period and how does that work?
After the 2013 Indian Premier League spot-fixing scandal, the Supreme Court in 2015 set up a committee led by Justice R M Lodha to suggest changes to address issues facing the gentleman’s game in the country. After a year of thorough research and consultation with various stakeholders, the Lodha committee gave its recommendations to the SC in 2016.
In line with the recommendations, the SC appointed a committee of administrators (CoA) as caretaker of the BCCI before fresh elections would be held in 2019. Apart from the appointment of the CoA, the recommendations also stated that no office bearer elected in a state (cricket) unit of the BCCI or the BCCI itself, should hold the position for more than six years (two terms of three years each).
If the office bearer wished to seek a second term, they would have to go through an election process only after a gap of three years from the end of their tenure as office bearer. This gap of three years was called the cooling-off period.
What happens to the cooling-off period now?
A Bench of Justice D Y Chandrachud and Hima Kohli has in its latest order said that the cooling-off period will remain for two terms, but it would not be counted cumulatively. That means if a person has served as an office bearer of any BCCI state unit for two terms, they can vie for any post in the BCCI (central) election without needing a cooling-off period.
If they get elected, they can serve in the post for another two terms of three years each. This effectively means that the cooling-off period will only start after 12 years in office. The cooling-off period remains for three years only.
Supreme Court approval still required for changes to the BCCI constitution
The BCCI in one of its amendments asked for leave of the apex court for bringing changes to its constitution. It wanted to make changes through the Annual General Meetings where all members of the board and state units would be available and hoped no approval of the SC would be needed. This request, however, was denied by the apex court.
Boost for MLAs and MPs in cricket bodies
The Lodha committee had recommended that any person holding a post of ‘public servant’ — that would include all elected public personalities like Members of Legislative Assemblies and Parliament (MLAs and MPs) and all other public servants holding any position of power in government services — should not simultaneously hold a BCCI post.
Now, the ambit of the term ‘Public Servants’ has been reduced to only ministers and government employees (IAS officers). So, all MLAs and MPs can now run for state body elections and even for any post in the BCCI itself.
In the current scenario, this amendment would be seen as a big relief for office bearers like Rajiv Shukla, the vice-president of the BCCI, who recently became a member of the Rajya Sabha.
‘One state, one vote’ removed
The Lodha committee’s had recommended that each state should have just one vote even if some had more than one cricket association. This led to a problem because even the entities like Railways and Services lost their right to vote at BCCI AGMs.
Now, the court has re-established the voting rights of all associations that field a team in the Indian domestic circuit. The vote of all associations, including Railways and Services, will now have an equal weighting.
Earlier, due to the Lodha committee’s recommendations, cricket units like Vidarbha and Mumbai (both part of Maharashtra state, which also has the Maharashtra Cricket Association), and Baroda and Saurashtra (both part of Gujarat, which also has the Gujarat Cricket Association) were suffering, as each state had only one vote. That meant the vote was rotated among the three associations of these states.
The Court, however, did not give any voting rights to the Cricket Club of India (CCI), Mumbai and National Cricket Club (NCB), Kolkata, which had hitherto enjoyed voting rights similar to state associations before the Lodha committee’s recommendations were implemented. The Court reasoned that since these two clubs did not field any team participating in the Indian domestic circuit, they could not have the same voting rights as state bodies.