Supreme Court limits BCCI's financial freedom

The Supreme Court of India has directed the BCCI not to distribute funds to its state associations until they comply with the Lodha Committee's recommendations

Nagraj Gollapudi
The Supreme Court of India has passed an order that limits the BCCI's financial freedom and power until the board and its state associations comply with the Lodha Committee's recommendations.
In a 25-page order issued on Friday, the court directed the BCCI not to distribute funds to its state associations until they submit affidavits stating compliance with the recommendations to the court and the Lodha Committee in two weeks. The order was passed by a three-judge bench comprising Chief Justice of India TS Thakur and Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud.
The court also asked BCCI president Anurag Thakur and secretary Ajay Shirke to meet the Lodha Committee before November 3. They were required to submit an "affidavit of compliance" in the court by December 3, elaborating on the recommendations already implemented by the BCCI and what it had done to persuade the state associations to adopt the recommendations. The court scheduled the next hearing for December 5.
In another significant decision, the court asked the Lodha Committee to appoint an independent auditor to verify the BCCI's accounts. The Lodha Committee was also asked to set a "threshold value" for various contracts the BCCI enters into, and all contracts in excess of that amount would need the committee's approval. The next major contract for the board is the IPL broadcast deal, set to be finalised on October 25.
"I've always maintained that we have the highest respect for judiciary. We have welcomed the Lodha Committee recommendations, we more than welcome them because we have nothing to hide," Thakur told Sportstar after the order came out. "I'm very optimistic in my approach and I am sure some of the issues that we have requested for a re-look will be addressed. We are not fighting against anyone. All I have been saying is that there is confusion regarding certain recommendations. I am sure a dialogue can be had in the interest of the game."
Friday's order is the second one issued this week by the court, after an interim order on October 17 in response to the Lodha Committee's status report, which had recommended that the BCCI office bearers be "superseded" and a panel of administrators be appointed because the board was impeding the implementation of the court-approved recommendations.
In its order the court noted that there was "substance in the status report". It also said the BCCI was in "breach" of the July 18 court order that had approved the majority of recommendations in the Lodha Committee's report and asked the board and states to implement them in four to six months. "Implementation of the final judgment of this Court dated 18 July 2016 has prima facie been impeded by the intransigence of BCCI and its office bearers," the court order said.
The court said that "at this stage" it was refraining from approving the Lodha Committee's suggestion to supersede the BCCI office bearers because the board had said in a submission to the court that "it would make every genuine effort to persuade the state associations" to comply with the recommendations.
The BCCI's position had been that it could not implement the Lodha Committee's recommendations without a majority of its state associations agreeing to do so. The key recommendations the board said the states were reluctant to accept were the one-state-one-vote policy, the age cap of 70 for administrators, and the limit of three, three-year terms with cooling-off periods in between for office bearers.
The court order put the states under pressure to comply by cutting off their funding. "The BCCI shall forthwith cease and desist from making any disbursement of funds for any purpose whatsoever to any state association until and unless the state association concerned adopts a resolution undertaking to implement the recommendations of the Committee as accepted by this Court in its judgment dated 18 July," the court order said. A state was to receive funds from the BCCI only after the resolution, signed by its president, was submitted to the committee and the court.
The court said it had taken cognisance of the argument raised by the board's legal counsel Kapil Sibal, who had said the BCCI would "demonstrate" to the Lodha Committee how it had already fulfilled some of the recommendations. The court asked the committee to verify whether there had been "full compliance".

Nagraj Gollapudi is a senior assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo