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BCCI firm on AGM agenda despite Lodha panel's warning

The agenda for the BCCI's annual general meeting could attract the ire of the Lodha Committee

Nagraj Gollapudi
Anurag Thakur (third from left) at the BCCI's special general meeting where he was elected president, Mumbai, May 22, 2016

The BCCI's agenda for the AGM includes an election for the board secretary, the picking of the new selection committee, and choosing a new ombudsman  •  BCCI

On September 21 the BCCI will conduct its 87th annual general meeting in Mumbai; a routine affair, according to its various officials. What the board considers routine, however, differs significantly from what the Lodha Committee, which has been tasked with reforming the BCCI by the Supreme Court, considers routine.
In August, BCCI secretary Ajay Shirke had met with the Lodha Committee and said the AGM would concern only routine business. On August 31, however, in an email to BCCI chief executive Rahul Johri, the Lodha Committee spokesperson said the AGM should be limited to "routine business concerning the past year (2015-16)" and that "any business or matters relating to the next year (2016-17)" be dealt with only after the BCCI implements the Committee's recommendations.
On the agenda for the BCCI's AGM, though, is the election for board secretary, the picking of the selection committee, adding new members to the board's working committee, electing standing committees, choosing a new ombudsman, nominating a representative to attend ICC and Asian Cricket Council meetings, approving the budget for the next calendar year, and appointing auditors for the next financial year.
The above might be routine AGM agenda for the BCCI but, according to the Lodha Committee, unless the board adopts the new Memorandum of Association and Rules, any appointments could be considered contempt of court. It is understood that if the BCCI makes any appointments - a person or a committee - for the future, the Lodha Committee will do everything within its power to remove them.
The Committee has repeatedly reminded the BCCI of the powers vested in it by the Supreme Court order on July 18, and if the board and state associations fail to comply, the panel can approach the court again.
The BCCI appears to be in a defiant mood, though. Having issued an advertisement last week inviting applications for selectors in the men's, women's and junior committees, a round of interviews was held in Delhi on Monday, and another is scheduled in Mumbai on Tuesday.
At the AGM, the BCCI will select five new members to be part of its next working committee according to the zonal rotation system, and also appoint a new ombudsman because the tenure of Justice AP Shah ends on September 22. Shirke is also likely to be elected unopposed as BCCI secretary, though the board said it was accepting nominations until Tuesday. The election for secretary was necessitated because Shirke had been nominated to the post when Anurag Thakur took over as BCCI president in May, after Shashank Manohar had left to become the ICC chairman.
All this is likely to draw the ire of the Lodha Committee. Shortly after the Supreme Court had approved most of its recommendations for the overhaul of the governance structure of the BCCI and its state associations, the Lodha Committee had given deadlines to the BCCI to implement the reforms in two sets.
The first deadline is September 30, by when the BCCI and state associations need to amend their constitutions and adopt the new Memorandum of Association and Rules. The second is December 15, by when the board must hold elections to form a nine-member Apex Council to replace the working committee and hold its AGM.
The BCCI's defiance is backed by legal counsel from Justice Markandey Katju, a former Supreme Court judge. Katju was appointed by the board to advise how it should view the Supreme Court judgement that directed the board to adopt the Lodha Committee's recommendations. His report called the committee "unconstitutional and illegal". The BCCI then filed a petition seeking a review of the Court's order of July 18.
Katju said there was nothing wrong with the BCCI conducting the AGM. According to him, the BCCI was governed by the Tamil Nadu Societies Registration Act, 1975 and only the Registrar could take action against the BCCI, not a court-appointed committee. "It is well settled in law that the court cannot take over or usurp the functions of a statutory authority," Katju had said in his report, and reiterated the same on Monday.
Most state associations are also not too concerned. When asked whether there was anxiety over the approaching deadlines set by the Lodha Committee, a BCCI office-bearer, who also is a high-ranked official at a state association, said: "The BCCI has told all the state associations to follow their directives. No state association is party to the dispute. How come any recommendation is applicable to the state association?"
Another state association official said: "The Lodha Committee cannot interfere with every step we take. Asking us is also overstepping their brief. The state associations' parent body is BCCI. Whatever directions the BCCI gives us we will follow."
When asked whether there had been any directive from the BCCI, he said: "Nothing."
If anything, the Lodha Committee's directives seem to have brought the BCCI together. Shirke travelled to Chennai last month to meet former BCCI president N Srinivasan, under whom Shirke had served as treasurer before stepping down during the 2013 IPL corruption scandal.
The state official said that after Manohar's departure to the ICC and the death of Jagmohan Dalmiya there were not many experienced hands for the BCCI to call on. "They want his advice, his support," the official said. "Srinivasan will side with the BCCI, not Lodha."
A BCCI official said the AGM had been called "as per the existing rules and regulations of the board". When asked about the Lodha Committee's warning, he said: "We keep reading about that in the newspapers."

Nagraj Gollapudi is a senior assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo