Given the might of the Indian economy and the country’s young demographics, India is a preferred venue for major sporting events; the most popular of them is Cricket. Sporting performance is often associated with national pride, the systemic issues, like corruption, nepotism, spot-fixing, etc. have dented it severely in the recent past. As a result, the debate has been raging in favor of or against government intervention to put things in place. Cricket in India, at the national level, is governed by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), which is an autonomous agency. At the state level, there are State Cricket Associations. In accordance with international convention government influence in Cricket governance is limited. BCCI is completely responsible for Cricket governance in India, which is directly affiliated with the International Cricket Council (ICC). BCCI is a registered society under Societies Registration Act, 1860. BCCI receives some indirect subsidies from the government, in the form of tax benefits, security at sporting events free of cost, land for stadiums, etc. As a pre-condition for receiving direct financial aid, a body is supposed to have a government-appointed observer who oversees its internal processes such as the utilization of funds, team selections, etc. BCCI has had eminent politicians or retired bureaucrats elected as their office bearers with the anticipation of utilizing their political clout in various matters. Since sporting activities have traditionally been recreational in nature, the obvious question to ask is–why should the State be involved? One constant theme in the evolution of sports over the past century is that it has become a means of national pride. Be it the US during the cold war era or China in contemporary times–countries have used sporting excellence as a signal of their overall might soft power and self amelioration. India is a country of one billion aspiring people trying to prove our supremacy to the world, and sport is increasingly being seen as a medium to express it. Given such widespread public involvement and association of national pride with sports, the State cannot remain oblivious to it. As an entity dedicated to public welfare, the State has a definite interest in the promotion and governance of sports.
The Cricket governance in India is plagued by many issues and controversies. Some of these are:
unlimited discretionary powers vested in the board, and cricket associations,
lack of accountability,
non-transparent decision making,
revenue management irregularities,
illegal betting and match-fixing,
the zonal bickering among associations, etc.
Some of the recent ones are discussed below in some detail:
1. There is no doubting the fact that the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is the richest cricket body in the world today. However, nearly all sports experts agree that the functioning of the BCCI is shrouded in mystery. There is lack of transparency in the functioning of the BCCI and more often than not, the richest cricket organization is engaged in political squabbles with the least concern for the welfare of the game, the players, and the passionate fans. several of India's senior ministers holding top positions in the BCCI for the past few decades. This has given rise to many controversies in the recent past, like alleged scandals in DDCA, the foreign minister allegedly having relations with a fugitive cricket administrator, etc.
2. The new version of cricket in India, call IPL, was allegedly involved in recent cases of match-fixing, betting, involving players, renowned industrialists, bookies, etc. India now produces around 80% of total global cricket revenue. That power was extended by the rise of the IPL, which has also inflated player salaries, producing difficulties for other national cricket authorities.
3. Authorities arrested three players and eleven bookkeepers for alleged spot-fixing in IPL. This corruption scandal is a powerful reflection of the larger failings afflicting India today: rampant cronyism, poor governance, and the absence of accountability. To understand the root causes of India's current corruption crisis, one need not look any further than the controversy now surrounding Indian cricket.
4. The BCCI was recently in news over a major corruption issue involving its own president, whose cement company owns one of the teams in the lucrative IPL. His son-in-law was the team’s operations manager and became directly involved in a serious betting scandal involving organized crime figures. This forced the Supreme Court to appoint a committee to look into the governance of Cricket in India and make recommendations.
5. There are issues of unequal representations of state associations in BCCI.
The Lodha panel was formed by the Supreme Court of India in the wake of the Justice Mukul Mudgal Committee report that called for reforms within the BCCI. The Mudgal panel had gone into the state of affairs of the BCCI, following the 2013 IPL betting and spot-fixing charges. There are close links between cricket and politics, with The Lodha Committee was appointed to analyze and recommend implementable actions for improving the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), assess the quantum of punishment for Gurunath Meiyappan and Raj Kundra in the Indian Premier League (IPL) betting scandal, and analyze the role of Sundar Raman. The Lodha Committee report was submitted on 14 July 2015.
As per the judgment and order of the Hon’ble Supreme Court dated 22nd
i. Determine the punishment to be awarded to Mr.Gurunath Meiyappan, Mr.Raj
Kundra and their FranchisesJanuary 2015, the Committee was to:
ii. Examine the role of Mr.Sundar Raman, and if found guilty, impose a suitable punishment; and,
iii. Recommend reforms in the practices and procedures of the BCCI and also amendments in the Memorandum of Association and Rules & Regulation.
The Lodha committee appointed by the Supreme Court has recommended a complete overhaul of Indian cricket, from the very top down to the grassroots level and affecting every stakeholder. Its report covers every aspect of the game with a special focus on the BCCI's administrative and governance structures and the issue of transparency. The most important set of recommendations aims at transforming the entire power structure in the board. It has changed the BCCI's electorate to one association per state - some states have three - and removed the vote from associations without territorial definitions (e.g., Railways and Services). The recommendations of the Lodha Committee shook the BCCI hierarchy and its related associations. The BCCI raised objections to the recommendations and approached the Supreme Court. The final judgment by the Supreme Court was delivered on 18 July 2016, by a two-judge bench consisting of Justice Ibrahim Kalifulla and TS Thakur, the Chief Justice of India. The final judgment upheld the Lodha Committee recommendations, paving the way for a major change within the BCCI. The Supreme Court has finalized the new Constitution for the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). In a landmark decision on 18 July 2016, the Supreme Court passed most of the reforms proposed by the Justice Rajendra Mal Lodha-led Committee in an effort to clean up cricket administration in India that had been maligned by the spot-fixing scandal in the 2013 Indian Premier League (IPL). The court has rejected the ‘one State-one vote’ recommendation of the Justice R.M. Lodha Committee and has altered the cooling-off period for cricket bosses. The court disagreed with Justice Lodha that cricket could prosper only if the BCCI was represented by every State and Union Territory. The court has recognized the validity of BCCI’s traditional structure and the cricketing legacy of associations like Vidarbha and Mumbai in Maharashtra and Baroda and Saurashtra in Gujarat and reinstated these entities as full members of the board with voting rights. The one state-one vote rule had extinguished their representation while giving voting rights to states with feeble cricketing presence, raising fears of proxy or dummy voting. The court has stated that utilizing territoriality as a basis of exclusion is problematic because it ignores history and the contributions made by such associations to the development of cricket and its popularity. The SC has also increased the number of selectors from three to five, observing that a broad-based selection committee was required to tap the prodigious talent pool spread across the country. Restriction in the composition of the selection committee had led to a situation where persons with limited experience were found to be eligible and made it to the committee. The court retained the Lodha panel suggestion of barring government ministers or government servants from holding cricket office. It upheld the age cap of 70 years for cricket administrators. As per the amendments, the cooling-off period will be effective after two consecutive terms. The office-bearer will be eligible to contest for one last term after completely disassociating from cricket management, both in BCCI and state association, for three years. Justice Lodha had suggested that the cooling-off period should kick in for a cricket administrator after his every tenure of three years in office. However, the court said that an administrator needs to cool off only after two consecutive terms of six years in office, whether in the BCCI or a State association or a combination of both. The court has observed that six years in continuation is a sufficiently long period for experience and knowledge gained to be deployed in the interest of the game without at the same time resulting in a monopoly of power. The court upheld Justice Lodha’s recommendation of an apex council to professionally manage the BCCI. The council would consist of a Chief Executive Officer, Chief Financial Officer, and other officers who must be recruited on a transparent and professional basis. Of the nine members of the apex council, five (the president, vice-president, secretary, joint secretary, treasurer, and a member) are to be elected by the General Body.