The Supreme Court on Wednesday allowed BCCI to amend some clauses in its constitution, relaxing the cooling-off period. It will allow BCCI president Sourav Ganguly and secretary Jay Shah to run for another term. The order brings the Justice RM Lodha Committee report on BCCI reforms submitted on Jan 4, 2016 into focus. The committee was formed after the Justice Mudgal Committee report recommended reforms in the cricket body following the 2013 IPL betting and spot-fixing scandal. In an interview after the Supreme Court’s latest directives, former Chief Justice of India Lodha says “Maybe it’s evolution of new jurisprudence”.
How do you react to the amendments made by the Supreme Court in the BCCI statute?
Our governance principles were accepted by the Supreme Court in its July 18, 2016 order. Maybe over a period of time the court felt it needed to be changed. We gave the report with a lot of thinking, study and homework. The idea of cooling off was also found meritorious. Then, the court must have thought that the previous orders, if allowed to stand, would manifest injustice to cricket administration.
Some would argue nothing has changed materially in these years. Does it disappoint you that the court thinks differently now?
It doesn’t. The Supreme Court must have thought its previous orders needed to be changed because they were grossly erroneous or unjust or their judicial conscience must have been shaken. I wouldn’t know.
In hindsight, do you think some of your clauses were too stringent?
We applied the top governance principles of cricket administration. Our view was vindicated by the Supreme Court when it accepted the report. It is not that the clause was so absurd that it needed to be thrown out. On August 9, 2018, it was first modified. Now, it is further modified.
The cooling off clause is a mountain of snow. The office-bearers find it difficult to navigate and wait for the weather to change. That’s ok. We must bow down to the Supreme Court.
Maybe it’s evolution of new jurisprudence. Certain orders remain final and with others…maybe the court thought continuity of office-bearers was important. There must have been some good reasons which convinced the court to change its previous orders.
The order aside, do you think the spirit of your report has been compromised?
I would not say that. We were created by the Supreme Court. I am happy to say as head of the committee that the court accepted our report. If it undergoes changes later on, it’s for the court to look into it. Who am I to say?
When you think of it today, what is the central message you were trying to send with cricket reforms?
The idea was to have impartial cricket administrators and ensure that no monopoly is created by certain administrators who hold on to posts, year after year. With the presence of IPL in cricket, we wanted no monopoly from any person or body of persons. Every three years, new people come. After a cooling off period, you contest again. If you think continuity is so important, there is no point of having the concept of cooling off at all.
Sourav Ganguly would not have entered the administration arena because (past) administrators had such a strong hold. The problem with the chair is whether it is a sportsperson or anyone else, once you occupy the seat, you don’t want to leave it. We are satisfied that we gave our report with the best principles of governance in mind.
Would you give the same report if you were to do it again?
(Laughs) No, no, I will never accept such an assignment again. All I will say is that we are happy that our report was accepted, at first. Then it is between the court and BCCI.
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