The major recommendations of the LODHA panel !!!
- One association of each state will be a full member and have right to vote. One unit should represent one state.
- Committee suggested the restructuring of the BCCI’s administrative set-up, proposing the position of a CEO accountable to a nine-member apex council.
- An apex council for the BCCI comprising 9 members, of which 5 should be elected, 2 should be representatives of players association, and one woman.
- CEO to be assisted by 6 professional managers and the team of CEO and managers will be accountable to the apex council.
- To ensure transparency in its functioning, the panel had said that it is important to bring the body under the purview of the Right to Information Act.
- The committee recommended the institution of the office of an Ethics Officer, who would be responsible for resolving issues related to the conflict of interest.
- Ethics officer would be a former High Court judge.
- The committee had also suggested the appointment of an Electoral Officer to conduct the Board elections.
- The electoral officer would oversee the entire election process relating to the office-bearers namely, preparation of voters list, publication, dispute about eligibility of the office-bearers
- It had also proposed an Ombudsman for dealing with internal conflicts.
- Ombudsman can take cognisance of complaints suo moto, or received complaint or referred complaint by the apex council.
- It also suggested that a person cannot be a BCCI office-bearer and a state association office-bearer at the same time.
All WELL drafted ...but will BCCI be ready to come under the ambit of RTI ?
What is BCCI's argument ?
- Over the years, since the RTI Act came into effect in 2005, BCCI has strongly resisted the proposition to bring it within the ambit of the RTI Act.
- Its main contention has been two fold – that it is a Society registered in Tamil Nadu and that it does not receive government funds.
- So it should be treated as a private entity, not public authority.
Has any attempt made by the government in this regards in past to bring it under RTI ?
- In 2011, the then sports minister, Ajay Maken, piloted what was called National Sports Development Bill based on the recommendations of Justice Mukul Mudgal Committee.
- The Bill made it categorically clear that only those sports bodies which would agree to come under the purview of the RTI Act would enjoy the right to use ‘India’ as the team’s name — “ In order to represent India at international events and to have a right for a particular sports federation to use ‘India’ or ‘Indian’ in the sport scenario, the federation shall have to comply with Chapter IV (Unethical Practices in Sports) and Chapter IX (Applicability of Right to Information Act)”.
- The message of the sports ministry was loud and clear — if the BCCI wanted to continue as the body that was responsible for the selection of the official Indian cricket team for international games, then it could not escape the RTI net.
- But then the sports minister’s bold proposal to reform the sports bodies came to a nought when the Manmohan Singh cabinet rejected the Bill. The rejection was on expected lines. There were several ministers in the Manmohan government who had built deep routes in the BCCI over the decades; they presided over the kitty comprising thousands of crores; they wanted to keep the shenanigans of the BCCI under wraps. Neither did the BJP made any kind of hue and cry ...kyunki sab mile huye hai ji !!!
The CIC intervention !!!
In 2013, Madhu Agarwal, an RTI activist, sought information from the BCCI regarding some of its policies. But the BCCI refused to respond to her request. She then moved the Central Information Commission (CIC) for a directive to the BCCI to provide the information.On 10 July, 2013, the CIC sent notice to the BCCI to appear before it and present its case. But the BCCI refused to take cognisance of the CIC notice saying that it did not come under the ambit of the RTI Act and therefore it was not duty-bound to respond to it. When CIC threatened to resort to penal provisions owing to the non-response, the BCCI moved the Madras High Court to restrain the CIC from proceeding on the matter. The high court at Chennai has stayed the CIC proceedings. The matter remains sub judice, a fact alluded to by the Lodha committee. The issue, central to the CIC notice and the subsequent stay by the Madras High Court, is whether BCCI should be construed as a Public Body.
The Supreme Court intervention though not in context of RTI !!
A television network had moved the Supreme Court under the Article 32 of the constitution (direct jurisdiction of the Supreme Court to protect the Fundamental Rights enshrined in the Constitution) to challenge the BCCI’s decision to abrogate the contract for sports coverage.
The Supreme Court had refused to entertain the case under Article 32 of the Constitution, as it said that the BCCI could not be designated as ‘state’.
But at the same time, the apex court made a significant observation —
- the BCCI regulates and controls the game of cricket in India to the exclusion of all others;
- it chooses the national team;
- It is not just a body undertaking private activity; it is performing public duty.
- Therefore, it would come under the writ jurisdiction of the high courts under the Article 226 of the Constitution.
The Lodha committee report has largely reiterated what the Supreme Court had observed about the BCCI 10 years ago, in a different context.
So what's significant in LODHAji's report ?
- Lodha committee recommendation asking Parliament to enact a law to bring BCCI under the RTI Act is bound to come a cropper, given the past experience.
- It would only be possible if the Supreme Court endorses the CIC position and makes BCCI amenable to the RTI Act by a judicial pronouncement.
IOD's opinion !!
The BCCI should by and large accept the Justice Lodha panel recommendations and implement them just as Cricket Australia (CA) did with the governance review of David Crawford and Colin Carter.