The Supreme Court today slammed the BCCI for making “one excuse or other” to prolong implementation of the recommendations of the panel headed by justice R M Lodha on bringing reforms in the functioning and composition of the Board and also for objecting to most of its suggestions.
“You please do not keep saying this is perverse and that is perverse. These recommendations were formulated by a respected and experienced former chief justice of this court after discussions with all stake holders and extensive deliberations and we have gone through it and the conclusions are credible”, Chief Justice T S Thakur told K K Venugopal, senior lawyer who represented the BCCI.
Lauding the work done by Justice R M Lodha-led committee for bringing out massive structural change in functioning of BCCI, the bench said this is not an ordinary panel. It is a committee on which we have complete faith. It is committee of judges and its findings have to be relied upon. We cannot say that the findings are perverse.
On March 3 also the SC had warned the BCCI against attempts to “filibuster” or prolong the implementation of Lodha panel report that recommended sweeping changes in the structure, management and functioning of the Board by raising several objections and made it clear that only few of the recommendations may be referred back the panel for reconsideration
The bench was angry that the BCCI even objected to the ban on ministers as members of the Board and appointment of CAG to its governing council
“Are your rules so sacrosanct that not even the Supreme Court can intervene? Is there is an attempt to filibuster? You should also not try to prolong the implementation. Let us see if we can manage it ourselves or else we will refer restricted issues to the Lodha panel and say that they submit a supplementary report”, CJI Thakur had asked. T
he bench expressed surprise that even two months down the line the report had not been implemented and it was just being discussed
When the BCCI argued that “our views were not sought before recommendations finalized and said there would be unintended adverse impact and consequences of several changes in the memorandum, rules and regulations of the members of the BCCI, including those regarding grants, affiliation and recognition, the bench shot back saying “ you may find fault with recommendations but do not say you were not heard or that the recommendations came as a bolt from the blue”.
The BCCI contended that democratic principles of permitting choice of an administrator and representatives ought not to be curtailed, rules like age cap and cooling off period would hamper continuity of meritorious and deserving administrators and impact the development of the game, ban on ministers and government servants from holding honorary posts in sports were contrary to freedom of association and patently unreasonable restriction on the rights of such individuals and some of the state associations will lose their voting power under the one state, one vote suggestion
FUNDS DISTRIBUTION UNDER SCANNER
Slamming the BCCI over fund allocations to the state associations, the Supreme Court said the money disbursement pattern was akin to a “mutually beneficial society”
The court also went to the extent of accusing the BCCI of “corrupting its members” by not seeking any explanation on how crores of rupees allotted to them were being used.
“The impression one gets after reading the Lodha panel report is that you are allowing states to spend huge amounts of money the way they wish. You are practically corrupting that person by not asking how it is spent. You are not keeping any tab on them. Should it be seen as a method to buy votes in a certain manner?”, the CJI asked.
"BCCI must have distributive justice, why eleven states out of 29 are penny less? Why should these states go begging?," the CJI asked.
BCCI had following a direction submitted a detailed list of funds allocated to state associations in the last five years to the Supreme Court. Allocation to eleven states was found to be zero.
The CJI asked why Goa with hardly a population of 10 lakh was getting Rs. 57 crore while Bihar is not given anything. Eleven States here have zeros against their names. Goa gets Rs. 60 crore while Chhattisgarh gets Rs. 1.47 crore... you see your whole mandate is to promote the game all over the country. The passion for the game is spread across the country.The Bench then asked why Railway Sports Promotion Board, a full member, does not get anything.
When BCCI said they don't have an international stadium, CJI asked why Tripura with a 25-lakh population gets Rs. 60 crore even before an international stadium has been constructed.
When the judges asked BCCI about the criteria for grant of money, the board said only the states which contribute towards the development of the game and has set up infrastructure for it are entitled to it. Chief Justice then shot back: “How will the neglected states develop cricket if they are not granted funds?”