The Supreme Court has accepted the majority of the Lodha Committee recommendations covering wide-ranging aspects of Indian cricket at the central and state level. It has given the BCCI between four and six months to implement the recommendations and appointed RM Lodha, the former chief justice of India who was the architect of the report, to oversee the transition.
The order was delivered on Monday afternoon by the two-judge bench, comprising Chief Justice of India TS Thakur and Justice Ibrahim Kalifulla, which has been hearing the case since January.
"In the result, we accept the report submitted by the [Lodha] Committee and the recommendations made therein with such modifications and clarifications as have been set out by us in the body of this judgement," the bench said in its order. "The transition from the old to the new system recommended by the Committee shall have to be under the watchful supervision of this Court.
"The supervision of the transition can, in our opinion, be left to be undertaken by the Committee not only because it has a complete understanding of and insight into the nature of the problems sought to be remedied but also the ability to draw timelines for taking of steps necessary for the implementation of the proposed reforms. We are conscious of fact that the process may be time consuming but we hope that the same should be completed within a period of four months or at best six months from today. We, therefore, request the committee headed by Justice Lodha to draw appropriate timelines for implementation of the recommendations and supervise the implementation thereof.
"With these observations we dispose of the matter finally placing on record our deep appreciation for the commendable work which the Committee has done in a short period."
The BCCI counsel KK Venugopal told the court that his client "will show greatest respect in implementing the judgment". BCCI president Anurag Thakur offered no comment because he said he wanted to study the order first, but IPL chairman Rajiv Shukla said the BCCI would respect the judgement and discuss the procedure for implementation at a meeting.
Reacting to the court order, Lodha said he hoped it would be a positive influence on the game. "Great day for Indian cricket and Indian sport, think cricket fans should rejoice the verdict of Supreme Court," he told ANI.
The panel - comprising Lodha and retired Supreme Court judges, Ashok Bhan and R Raveendran - had been formed in January 2015 to determine appropriate punishments for Rajasthan Royals official Raj Kundra, Chennai Super Kings official Gurunath Meiyappan and their respective franchises, and decide on Sundar Raman's role in the IPL 2013 scandal, and propose changes to the BCCI's functioning to streamline its functions and prevent sporting fraud and conflict of interest.
The most important set of recommendations announced by the Lodha Committee in January this year were accordingly aimed at transforming the BCCI's power structure. The court accepted the committee's recommendation of giving each state only one vote in the BCCI's elections and and removing the vote from associations without territorial definitions (Railways and Services, for example).
The court also approved of recommendations that sought to define stringent eligibility criteria for the board's office-bearers and set limits to their time in office. Ministers and bureaucrats currently holding office will not to be allowed to hold BCCI positions, neither would those officials holding office in their state associations or those above 70 years of age.
The committee's recommendation that there be five elected office-bearers - president, secretary, one vice-president instead of the current five, treasurer and joint-secretary - but that they serve no more than three three-year terms across positions was also accepted by the court; as was the motion to have a "cooling-off" period between terms to prevent an official from holding high BCCI office for several years at a stretch.
The Lodha's report had also recommended that the Working Committee, the BCCI's highest decision-making body, be replaced with a nine-member Apex Council, which will include representatives from the players' community - including one woman. There should also be a nominee of the Comptroller and Auditor General to keep an eye on how the board's vast resources were being utilised. The BCCI was asked to implement all these recommendations.
There were three major recommendations made by the Lodha Committee that the Supreme Court did not direct the BCCI to implement. The court did not accept the recommendation to impose restrictions on television advertisements during the broadcast of matches, and it said that the matters of bringing the BCCI under the Right to Information Act and legalising betting in the country were matters for the Indian legislature.