BCCI’s plans to change constitution ‘unfortunate’ – Lodha

Justice (retd) RM Lodha, who was appointed by the Supreme Court in 2015 to reform the BCCI, has said the board’s move to amend the constitution he had framed was “unfortunate”. The constitution, which provides for sweeping changes to the way in which Indian cricket is run, was approved by the Supreme Court in August 2018.

Lodha referred to BCCI president Sourav Ganguly and said a former cricketer would never have headed the board if it wasn’t for his reforms in the first place.

The most radical amendments include altering the rules concerning the cooling-off period for administrators that currently bars them from office for three years after serving a six-year period in office, relaxing various disqualification criteria and removing the need for any changes to the constitution to be approved by the Supreme Court. Ganguly and BCCI secretary Jay Shah are currently set to serve only till June 2020 since they had been heads of their respective state boards for more than five years before their current roles.

Among the other amendments proposed by the BCCI board is watering down the “conflict of interest clauses” that exist in the constitution and giving more power to the board secretary. That is a distinct shift from before where the CEO held more power.

“It’s very unfortunate,” Lodha was quoted as saying in an interview by Hindustan Times. “I thought a cricketer at the helm of affairs will understand that it was only our reforms which brought him to this position.

“If the earlier system was in vogue, perhaps no cricketer could have ever dreamt of heading a body like the BCCI,” Lodha said. “The way politics is played in cricket administration, I don’t think any cricketer would have been able to get this position but for these reforms.

“That’s all the more reason for those in charge now to respect the reforms and try to fully implement them, instead of changing them,” Lodha said. “Let reforms work over a period of time and see how transparency, accountability come into the administration.”

Lodha conceded that it was legally impossible to stop family members of former board members from contesting elections. But he hoped that more “independent” people would come to the fore in the long run.

Lodha also said he wished that the Committee of Administrators, led by Vinod Rai, implemented the reforms much faster. “They took a lot of time in implementation,” he said. “Their job was to implement the SC order by which our committee’s report was accepted. It should have been done a long time back. They took three years.

“As a matter of fact, the second election should have been due by this time because the first order was passed in July, 2016. The first election after reforms has taken place in 2019.”

The Lodha Committee, appointed by the Supreme Court in 2015, was headed by Lodha, a former Chief Justice of India, along with former Supreme Court Justices RV Raveendran and Ashok Bhan.