Justice RM Lodha, who headed the committee that served a two-year suspension on the owners of Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals, has said the BCCI is free to terminate the franchises. His statement comes in the wake of much public confusion in interpreting this aspect of the committee's report - specifically over the extent to which the BCCI can act against the two franchises as follow-up to the committee's decision.
"It is for the BCCI to consider terminating the teams and the Supreme Court judgment is clear on that. The BCCI can do that," Justice Lodha told news channel NDTV.
On why the Supreme Court-appointed Lodha committee itself didn't ban the franchise, Justice Lodha said that would have exceeded its remit. "We have been appointed as a disciplinary committee and [Clause] 11.3 deals with contractual obligation and that has to be dealt by BCCI, so we can't go into it."
Clause 11.3 (c) of the BCCI-IPL franchise agreement mentions the agreement can be terminated if "the Franchise, any Franchise Group Company and/or any owner acts in any way which has a material adverse effect upon the reputation or standing of the League, BCCI-IPL, BCCI, the Franchise, the team (or any other team in the League) and/or the game of cricket."
Lodha's statement should end the prevailing ambiguity within the BCCI as far as the process of termination goes. Most BCCI officials ESPNcricinfo spoke to were unaware of whether the BCCI was empowered to terminate the franchises, and confined themselves to saying they would strictly abide by the Lodha Committee order.
Rajeev Shukla, the chairman of the IPL governing council, was similarly non-committal about whether termination was an imminent step. "We can't comment about it because as we have read the report they have suspended it for two years," he told NDTV. "When the implementation part will come, we will go by the recommendations of the Lodha Commission report, and that will be decided by the Governing Council and the Working Committee."
Other BCCI officials, too, have over the past two days been reluctant to entertain thoughts of termination.
"The Lodha Committee has clearly said what has to be done," a BCCI official said. "We will abide by it. But, I don't think we will terminate CSK and RR. We will strictly follow what the Lodha report has said."
Lodha's statement is expected to throw into the mix the possibility of termination of the two franchises as the IPL governing council meets on July 19.