Hon’ble Supreme Court (Chief Justice T.S. Thakur and Judge Fakkir Mohamed Ibrahim Kalifulla) has accepted major recommendations of R M Lodha Panel’s report on BCCI, thus lays the major edifice of reformation and cleaning up of the richest cricket board BCCI. The truth is that in the modern Indian history no institution has functioned uncontrolled, above the basic democratic and legal norms as the BCCI has. It appeared to people that it was monolith with unlimited powers and traditional- ascriptive functioning which often did show that vested interests were supreme. The politicians, bureaucrats and all with money power attempted to control the board.
It is still to come out in the public domain what actually was so attractive, pleasure some inside the office premises of BCCI that everyone wanted to be a close partner of the organization. Government can control any NGO and can put several norms on any institution, can cancel the license of any organization but in case of BCCI it failed on several counts since the time it was established. This is strange and common wisdom fails to find out the factors behind such a reality.
The acceptance of Lodha committee report by Supreme Court is a historical step as the acceptance bars the government officers and ministers from having any important post in the BCCI. Supreme Court observed ‘the Committee came to the definite conclusion that BCCI has been suffering from many ills that had become endemic due to the apathy and involvement of those at the helm of the Board’s administration. The Committee recorded a specific finding that the problems faced by the BCCI have been compounded by the involvement/association of many high functionaries in the Central and State Governments some of whom had remained in charge of the administration of the BCCI for several decades.’
Committee found out that there was no transparency, inequal representation to states, several nonfunctional units with major share being enjoyed by Maharashtra, no proper representation to several states and UTs and women representation was ignored. It appears that all was being enjoyed by few politicians and the bureaucrats at the cost of common people and the high earned money of the citizens. In this respect the committee castigated the politicians and the bureaucrats the most and gave a solution too. The decision is that ‘any elected Councillor shall stand automatically disqualified after nine years as an office bearer, and shall also be disqualified from contesting or holding the post if he has completed the age of 70 years, is charged under the penal law, is declared to be of unsound mind, is a Minister or government servant or holds any post of another sports body in the country.’ Supreme Court commented with great relief that ‘We do not think that the game flourishes in this country because any minister or civil servant holds office in the State Associations or BCCI.’ A senseless contention which BCCI always thought as rational for the enjoyments of pelf and power by the power holders of the country. Supreme Court also accepted that there should be CAG nominee and a players association in the BCCI, moreover the one person-one post principle be adopted.
One serious issue relates to the application of RTI Act on the BCCI. Supreme Court has taken note of it as well but has left the issue to be decided by the parliament. The observation of committee was that ‘The Right to Information Act, 2005 (‘RTI Act’) enacts that public authorities shall make known the particulars of the facilities available to citizens. While the issue of the BCCI being amenable to the RTI Act is sub judice before the High Court of Madras in W.P.No.20229/2013, many respondents who appeared and interacted with the Committee were of the view that BCCI’s activities must come under the RTI Act. Having regard to the emphasis laid by the Hon’ble Supreme Court that BCCI discharges public functions and also the Court’s reference to indirect approval of the Central and State Governments in activities which has created a monopoly in the hands of the BCCI over cricket, the Committee feels that the people of the country have a right to know the details about the BCCI’s functions and activities. It is therefore recommended that the legislature must seriously consider bringing BCCI within the purview of the RTI Act.’
Yes people of India has a fundamental right to know how the BCCI is run and how was it run till now. They also want to know what was so special inside the BCCI that attracted every power holder from political parties like BJP and Congress that its prominent leaders and several others too flocked to it in the name of serving the organization. That magnet needs to be identified. The RTI Act has capacity to reveal all powerful point of attraction along with the anomalies in the functioning of the BCCI. The onus is now on the government of India as SC has put it on the legislature to take decision on it. The simple solution is that parliament should bring the BCCI under the periphery of RTI as it is neither any sneistive defense department nor Atomic energy organization or any other such department if the information of it is brought in the public domain then damage to the county is caused. Hence government should bring it within the act earliest possible, even in this monsoon session of parliament it can be done. The present government talked about the Good Governance, now the time is to show the real Good Governance on an organization which has allowed the power holders to cut the slice of enjoyment without any transparency and accountability. Finally a great salute to Lodha committee and to Supreme Court from the side of common people who lives the life of troubles, still loves the game, BCCI took advantage of this emotional attachment and Government kept watching it silently. Now Supreme Court has whipped and solution is provided. Government should act immediately. Finally the petitioners and legend Bishan Singh Bedi and Kirti Azad should be appreciated for the taking up the cause of the common people.
Dr. Vivek Kumar Srivastava is Vice Chairman CSSP, Consultant CRIEPS, e firstname.lastname@example.org