Lodha Committee clarifies BCCI’s NZ series-cancellation claim

Lodha Committee clarifies BCCI’s NZ series-cancellation claim

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Lodha Committee clarifies BCCI’s NZ series-cancellation claimlodha-committee-clarifies-bccis-nz-series-cancellation-claim

The Lodha Committee has clarified that it has not asked for the BCCI’s accounts to be frozen, but only for two specific payments from the board to its state associations to be stopped. Payments required for other routine affairs – such as organising cricket matches – can go on as they earlier did, the Committee said.

It issued the clarification on Tuesday morning, following reports in newspapers that quoted a BCCI official saying the board would have to cancel the remainder of the New Zealand series because its bank accounts had been frozen by a directive from the Lodha Committee.

New Zealand Cricket, however, had not received any communication from the BCCI regarding the cancellation of the remaining fixtures, and the team was said to be preparing for the third Test in Indore as planned. They are scheduled to travel from Kolkata to Indore on Wednesday.

The communication sent via email by the Lodha Committee to two Indian banks on Monday had made no mention of the freezing of the BCCI accounts; instead it had directed the banks to stop two specific payments, as reported by ESPNcricinfo, from the BCCI to its state associations. The payments were related to an increase in infrastructure subsidy to the states, and the distribution of funds received by the BCCI from the broadcasters of the Champions League T20 because of the cancellation of the tournament.

The Lodha Committee’s secretary, Gopal Sankaranarayanan, confirmed to ESPNcricinfo on Tuesday that the directive was restricted to just those particular payments and did not threaten the organising of the rest of the series or any other cricket.

However, in an email to state associations later on Tuesday, the Lodha committee revealed that some of the funds had been transferred via transactions “hurriedly carried out by RTGS between September 29 and October 1”.

Sankaranarayanan said the Committee’s concern with those payments was that they didn’t want huge sums of money – said to be about INR 500 crore according to the committee – being transferred from the BCCI accounts overnight. On August 31, the Lodha Committee had issued a directive to the BCCI not to take decisions on matters regarding the future that were not routine. In the committee’s opinion, the disbursement of such funds was not routine.

“It has come to the notice of this Committee that certain decisions have been taken at the ‘Emergent Working Committee’ meeting of the BCCI on 30th September 2016 to disburse large funds to the various member associations,” the Lodha Committee’s email to the banks said. “You are aware that by way of this Committee’s direction dated 31.8.2016, no further decisions were to be taken regarding the future apart from routine matters. The disbursement of these amounts are not routine, and in any case, not emergent.

“As the status report is to be taken up for directions by the Hon’ble Court on Thursday, 6.10.2016, you are hereby directed not to take any steps towards financial disbursement of the amounts as resolved/approved after the direction dated 31.8.2016.”

On October 6, the Supreme Court of India is likely to hear the BCCI’s response to the Lodha Committee’s status report with regard to the Indian board implementing the committee’s recommendations that were passed by a court order on July 18. In that order, the court had said the BCCI had to implement all the recommendations it had passed according to various timelines and deadlines set by the Lodha Committee.


New Zealand have not received communication from the BCCI regarding the future of their ongoing tour © Associated Press

The Lodha committee had recommended a complete overhaul of Indian cricket, from the very top down to the grassroots level and affecting every stakeholder. Its report covered every aspect of the game with special focus on the BCCI’s administrative and governance structures and the issue of transparency. The most important set of recommendations was aimed at transforming the entire power structure in the board.

In its status report on September 28, however, the Lodha Committee had asked the Supreme Court to “supersede” the BCCI’s top officials with “immediate effect” because they had not complied with the committee’s timelines and were impeding the implementation of the recommendations. The court reacted by telling the BCCI to “fall in line” and that it had a week to respond.

The BCCI had also filed a fresh application in the Supreme Court on September 27 pleading for the court’s July 18 order to be “suspended” until it heard the board’s review and curative petitions against the mandatory implementation of most of the Lodha Committee’s recommendations. The review petition singled out TS Thakur, the chief justice of India who was on the two-judge bench that passed the order, and said he had a “prejudiced” approach towards the board and should recuse himself from hearing the matter. However, the petition has been lying “in defect” because the court raised technical objections to the petition and asked the BCCI to repair them.

On October 1, the BCCI said it had “unanimously” adopted “important recommendations” made by the Lodha Committee at its Special General Meeting (SGM) in Mumbai. However, the list the board said it had accepted did not include key recommendations such as the age cap of 70 years for board officials, the tenure cap of nine years with cooling-off periods in between, and the one-state-one-vote policy, among others.

The BCCI’s move appeared to be against the Supreme Court order, which said that all of the Lodha report’s recommendations passed by the court – and not a selection – would have to be adopted by the board.

The Lodha Committee – comprising former Chief Justice of India RM Lodha and retired Supreme Court judges Ashok Bhan and R Raveendran – was formed in January 2015 to determine appropriate punishments for some of the officials involved in the 2013 IPL corruption scandal, and also to propose changes to streamline the BCCI, reform its functioning, prevent sporting fraud and conflict of interest.

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