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Lodha Committee Recommendations On BCCI Reforms Not Applicable To District Cricket Association Elections: Kerala High Court

Navya Benny
5 Nov 2022 3:32 AM GMT
Lodha Committee Recommendations On BCCI Reforms Not Applicable To District Cricket Association Elections: Kerala High Court
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The Kerala High Court has said that Justice R.M. Lodha Committee recommendations do not apply to the district cricket association elections.

Justice N. Nagaresh in a judgement delivered on Monday said the Committee and the apex court in Board of Control for Cricket v. Cricket Association of Bihar and others intended to make reforms in the governance of BCCI and bring the state cricket associations (SCAs) in harmony with such reforms, adding the top court has categorically held in its decision that the composition of the SCAs will remain unaffected "and so does the right of those forming such Associations under Article 19(1)(c)."

"Nothing in the judgment in the Board of Control for Cricket (supra) and the recommendations of the Justice R.M. Lodha Committee (Ext.R2(1)) would indicate that the Committee report and recommendations are intended to apply to the District Cricket Associations," said the court.

The Case

The court was dealing with a question whether elections to the District Cricket Associations (DCA) were to be conducted in accordance with the Supreme Court's decision in BCCI case and Justice R.M. Lodha Committee recommendations. The legal question was raised in a petition filed by the office bearers of cricket clubs functioning in Kannur district.

Stating that after adopting the recommendations made by Lodha Committee, the Kerala Cricket Association (KCA) published revised Memorandum of Association (MoA) and Rules and Regulations, the petitioners argued that DCAs being mirror images and affiliates of the KCA, are bound to follow the new norms.

Challenging an election notice issued by the Cannanore District Association (CDA) in August, the petitioners said the district body has decided to hold the Annual General Body Meeting of the Association and election as per the old Memorandum of Association of the KCA and common bye-laws for District Cricket Associations.

"Returning Officer for election has overlooked the fact that the proposed election has to be conducted following [new MoA] and not following [Old MoA] and [common bye-laws]," they submitted before the court, while seeking a direction for holding elections in CDA, as per the norms laid down by the Lodha Committee report.

The new MoA brought in following changes:

- the office bearers and Executive Committee to be elected were reduced to the President, Vice President, Secretary, Joint Secretary and Treasurer ((5 Member Committee).

- The term of an office bearer shall be three years

-no person shall be office bearer for more than three terms.

-A person, who has held any post for two consecutive terms, shall not be eligible to contest any further election without completing a cooling off period of three years and the age limit for being an office bearer is 70 years.

As per the common bye-laws for District Cricket Associations, the EC can have more than a dozen members and an office bearer of the Association can hold office for one or more terms of four years each.

Arguments

It was argued by Advocates Sunil V. Mohammed, Manoj N., Ajitha Appu, M.S. Neethumol, and Aadil Shah A.S. on behalf of the petitioners that the decision in the BCCI case had made it clear that in case the SCAs do not undertake compliance as per the revised norms, the directions in the orders issued by the apex court seeking compliance would revive.

The conduct of election to the CDA on the basis of old MoA and common bye-laws "would be highly illegal, arbitrary and would amount to violation of the directions given by the Apex Court," the petitioners argued. It was also contended that the common bye-laws for DCAs is a part of old MoA of the KCA and therefore when the same was replaced by new MoA, the common bye-laws also ceased to exist.

On the other hand, it was contended by Advocates Abhilash K.N., Sunil Nair Palakkat, M.A. Ahammad Saheer, Rithik S. Anand, Anu Paul, Sreelakshmi Menon P., who represented the KCA, that the Lodha Committee Report was aimed at improving the administration of the State Associations and not of its component units.

"The Lodha Committee did not conduct any study on the administration of the State Associations and its component units. The Committee's research and recommendations were confined to the BCCI. The Apex Court did not give any mandatory directions to the State Associations, but only stated that unless the State Associations implement certain recommendations, they would not get monetary grant from the BCCI. The Lodha Committee reforms/recommendations are not applicable as such to the State Associations," the counsel representing KCA submitted.

It was also submitted that common bye-laws will apply to DCAs whereas the new MoA would govern the KCA.

Advocate Sunil Shankar, appearing for BCCI, submitted that Justice Lodha Committee report is intended to revamp the administration and functioning of BCCI. "The report has not specifically made any recommendations to be made applicable to District Cricket Associations," he submitted.

Findings

Observing that Lodha Committee report and recommendations are not meant for the District Cricket Associations, the court also rejected the argument that the common bye-laws for the DCAs was an integral part of the old MoA and since it was to be replaced by a new MOA and Rules and Regulations, the common bye-laws would not survive.

Though at the first blush the argument appears to correct, a closer scrutiny would prove otherwise, said the court.

"As Ext.P4 Memorandum of Association [new MoA] and Rules and Regulations of the 2nd respondent-KCA do not provide the manner in which elections to the DCAs are to be conducted, I do not find any illegality in the 2nd respondent following Ext.P2 common bye-laws for DCAs for the purpose of conduct of election to the 3rd respondent-CDA, in spite of the fact that Ext.P1 Memorandum of Association stands substituted by Ext.P4. It is to be noted that Ext.P2 common bye-laws for DCAs are bye-laws adopted by the DCAs", the Court observed.

The court added that as long as KCA does not bring out new norms for the DCAs for recognition, structure, functioning, it will be justified in following the common bye- laws for the DCAs.

Regarding the Andhra Cricket Association Ombudsman decision by which the Krishna District Cricket Association was directed to to take necessary measures to implement the reforms approved by the apex court, the court noted Ombudsman's job to resolve the internal disputes between members and associations.

"The decision is taken on the basis of the situation prevailing in respect of the said District Cricket Association. I do not find any reason to make such a direction universally applicable to all District Cricket Associations. Such direction would amount to interference with the democratic autonomy of the DCAs", the Court observed.

Dismissing the petition, the court said, "I find that the petitioners have not made out a case for interference in Exts.P7 [election notice] and P8 [nomination list]."

Case Title: Devanandan M.C. & Ors. v. The Board of Control for Cricket in India & Ors

Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Ker) 570

Click Here To Read/Download The Judgment



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