India news July 24, 2017

Supreme Court softens stance, to reconsider some proposals

A year after approving the Lodha Committee recommendations and directing the BCCI to implement the same, the Supreme Court has warmed up to the idea of reconsidering a few of the proposals. Although the court did not spell out the specific ones it would re-open for debate, it did indicate that recommendations such as the one-state-one-vote policy, and the reduction in the size of the selection panel - which has already taken place - would be part of the discussions at the next hearing on August 18.

In the interim, the court directed the BCCI and state associations to approve as many recommendations "as far as practicable". "All concerned (BCCI and state associations) shall implement the recommendations of the Justice Lodha Committee Report as far as practicable, barring the issues which have been raised pertaining to membership, number of members of the selection committee, concept of associate membership, etc," the court said in its order today.

"The purpose is to implement the report as far as practicable and, thereafter, it shall be debated as to how the scheme of things can be considered so that the cricket, the 'gentleman's game', remains nearly perfect."

The court's order represents a softening of sorts on the verdict delivered on July 18 last year, when a two-judge bench led by former Chief Justice of India TS Thakur delivered a withering judgement, ordering the BCCI to implement the proposals within six months.

Thakur has since retired, however, and the hearing has taken place in front of a three-judge bench comprising Justices Deepak Misra, AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud.

The BCCI has scheduled a special general meeting (SGM) on July 26 to discuss and approve the adoption of the new constitution as per the Lodha Committee recommendations. The BCCI was originally scheduled to ratify the constitution at the July 11 SGM, but that was postponed after five state associations raised objections.

On Monday, the court was responding to petitions filed by a number of state associations, as well as the by the BCCI itself, and also looking at the status report filed by the Committee of Administrators (CoA).

The CoA, charged with overseeing the implementation of the proposals, had complained in their status report that disqualified office bearers with "vested interests" were stalling the process. Specifically, the CoA named the veteran pair of N Srinvasan and Niranjan Shah as "impediments".

Srinivasan and Shah filed individual affidavits, explaining their stance against proposals. Both men fail the eligibility criteria prescribed by the Lodha Committee on various counts, having been office bearers at their respective state association for more than nine years and having also exceeded the age cap of 70.

Yet despite their ineligibility, Srinivasan and Shah have been attending BCCI meetings as representatives of their state associations. Other senior administrators, including Rajeev Shukla (IPL chairman and representative of Uttar Pradesh Cricket Association) and Jyotiraditya Scindia (representative of Madhya Pradesh Cricket Association), have also violated court orders.

The court today did not issue a final decision on the issue, but in response to the CoA report, did say that no ineligible office bearer, both at the BCCI and the state association, can attend the July 26 SGM. In theory, that means Srinivasan, Shah, Shukla and Scindia cannot attend Wednesday's meeting.

Nagraj Gollapudi is a senior assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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