The Supreme Court today approved the BCCI's new draft constitution, effectively diluting its earlier order, to allow office bearers to hold office for six consecutive years instead of three and reinstated voting rights of four legacy cricket associations in Maharashtra and Gujarat.
The top court directed all state cricket bodies to adopt the new constitution in letter and spirit within four weeks and warned them of action for any non-compliance as envisaged in its earlier orders including in form of non-disbursal of funds from the cash-rich Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).
In a string of rulings in this long-running case, the court restored voting rights and permanent membership of Mumbai, Saurashtra, Vadodara and Vidarbha cricket associations, all with a rich history in domestic cricket whose voting rights were taken away by the Lodha committee.
Earlier, the apex court had approved the Justice R M Lodha panel recommendation for a "cooling-off" period for office bearers after each term of three years. Now, they can have two consecutive terms, either in a state association or in the BCCI or a combination of both, before a mandatory cooling-off period of three years.
The court said it is necessary to ensure that adminstration should not remain in hands of few administrators as the "game will be better off without cricketing oligopolies".
A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra directed the Registrar of Societies of Tamil Nadu to register the BCCI's new constitution and sought a compliance report within four weeks. The BCCI's constitution is registered in Tamil Nadu.
The ruling, especially on the "cooling-off" norm and the "one-state, one vote" issue, comes as a relief to BCCI, which has questioned the feasibility of the Lodha recommendations.
The committee had recommended a cooling off period after just one tenure, instead of two. It had also recommended the "one-state, one-vote" policy, due to which some city and regional cricket associations like Mumbai and Saurashtra had lost their place in BCCI, which was allowed to give membership only to state associations.
The Supreme Court, in its July 18, 2016 verdict, had accepted most recommendations of the Lodha committee,which was formed in January 2015 under retired Justice R M Lodha's charge with the aim to reform the BCCI following charges of large-scale maladministration in the cash-rich cricket body.
Today's ruling waters down some key recommendations of the panel. However, it has retained the age limit of 70 years for holding any post in the BCCI.
The Committee of Administrators chief Vinod Rai welcomed the order and said the timeline set by the apex court for the adoption of the approved constitution will pave way for the BCCI elections, provided there is 100 per cent compliance by the state associations.
He also expressed satisfaction that all original members have retained their voting rights. The CoA was appointed as per a Supreme Court order in January 2017 to effective run the affairs at the BCCI and implement court-approved recommendations of the Lodha panel.
The bench, also comprising Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud restored the permanent membership of Railways, Services and Universities as well citing their contribution to the game and for nurturing talent.
The court also modified another earlier direction, based on the Lodha panel recommendation, that there would three selectors for selecting players and raised the number to five keeping in mind the huge number of national level games being played that they need to watch to decide player selections.
The Lodha panel was formed in the wake of the Justice Mukul Mudgal Committee report that called for reforms in the BCCI. The Mudgal panel had gone into the state of affairs of the BCCI, following the 2013 IPL betting and spot-fixing controversy.
The court said there are 28 teams and "India is reported to have the highest number of first-class teams in the world" and the teams take part in nine first-class level tournaments including Ranji to Deodhar trophy.
"Senior selectors watch over several tournaments during the course of the domestic cricketing season, from August to April every year," it said.
The bench, in its 35-page order, said, "Upon registration of the said Constitution of BCCI, each of the members shall undertake registration of their respective constitutions on similar lines within a period of 30 days thereafter."
The bench said that a compliance certificate would need to be submitted to CoA, which will have to then file a status report before the court.
The court said the expression 'office bearer' should not be permitted to be "circumvented by being a member of any other committee" or of the governing council in the BCCI or any state association.
It also said the general body and the apex council of the BCCI would need to ensure professional management of the Board, while all top officers must be recruited on a transparent and professional basis.
The bench did not alter its directions on disqualification and said a non-citizen, a person above 70 years of age, insolvent, or of unsound mind and a public servant will not be able to hold any post in the BCCI and state bodies.
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