What is Lodha Panel?
A three man committee appointed by Supreme Court of India (by a 2 men-bench of Justice TS Thakur[now CJI] and Justice F.M.I. Kalifulla) in January 2015.
Why it was appointed?
SC came across BCCI’s discrepancies pertaining to its own rules and standard operating procedures in its course of hearing of 2013 IPL spot fixing case. It was made after Mukul Mudgal committee report was submitted. Committee members were:
- Justice RM Lodha(Rtd. CJI)
- Justice Ashok Bhan
- Justice RV Ravindran
What was its main task?
Before we go into that let us try to understand what is 2013 IPL spot fixing case?
2013 IPL spot fixing case
Three cricketers were arrested in 2013 during IPL6. They were:
- Ajit Chandila
- Ankit Chavan
What is spot fixing?
Spot means a particular point. In terms of fixing, a particular point in game or spot means fixing a particular aspect of the game. Betting happens on an outcome of a certain event like on a particular ball in some over or how many runs would be scored in one ball or a next delivery will be wide or a no ball and likewise cases.
So is it like a match fixing?
Hell no! Match fixing is bet on the result of the match like which team will win and which will lose? It can have significant effect on the result of the match. Spot fixing does not have such influence.
Hmm, so when does spot fixing came first into lime light?
This discussion is not on spot fixing. But for info, in 2010 Pakistan tour of England it first came into international limelight. Mohd Amir and Mohd Asif intentionally bowled no balls on specific delivery as a part of conspiracy of Captain Salman Butt to defraud bookkeepers. In 2012, during IPL season 5, it again came under prime time news shows when 5 players were caught again. And in 2013, 3 players as named earlier were caught by Delhi Police. They accepted 40-60 lacs rupees from bookies for giving pre-determined runs in an over. Mumbai police also arrested Vindhu Dara Singh and Gurunath Meiyappan for betting.
23 other people were arrested in this 2013 case. As those 3 players were from Rajasthan Royals, its co-owner Raj Kundra was questioned by Delhi Police for involvement in betting as he had friendly relationship with one of the bookkeepers. As per Delhi Police he also confessed to this. BCCI suspended him from Rajasthan Royals franchise later on in 2013.
What happened afterwards?
SC formed a committee headed by Justice Mukul Mudgal to probe into betting and spot fixing in IPL. Thereafter report was submitted to SC. It had 13 names in a list but they were never made public. They were given to apex court in a ‘sealed envelope”. Justice Mudgal committee was thus, just only an investigator.
SC appointed Lodha panel afterwards in 2015 and entrusted it with 3 tasks:
- Determine appropriate punishments for Gurunath, Raj Kundra and franchises
- Examine role of IPL chief operating officer in 2013 spot fixing scandal and impose punishment if feasible on behalf of BCCI
- Suggests recommendations :
- To amend processes followed by BCCI
- To prevent frauds and conflict of interests.
- To make board more responsive
So what are its major recommendations?
Note: In the case of Zee Telefilms Ltd. vs Union of India, majority of Supreme Court’s five-judge Bench held that the BCCI was not an instrumentality of the state (hence doesn’t fall under ambit of article 12) even though it exercised public duties or state functions.
SC had already said that report will be final and binding as far as punishment is concerned. However SC had said that recommendations relating with the BCCI reforms are not binding.
So what are its major recommendations regarding BCCI reforms?
Recommendations regarding structural changes
- One state one cricket body– Board today has 30 members. Out of them some have no relation with respect to cricket game and it represents20 states and one Union Territory only. 10 states and 6 UT’s remain excluded or disenfranchised from voting decisions. In addition, some states have more than one member for example: Maharashtra and Gujarat has 3 members while some states like Bihar has no representation on the board at all. Committee suggested having only one association of a state to be full member of board and have right tovote. This one unit will represent one state only with one vote. Voting rights of city and institutional based units will be taken away.
- Brining board under RTI- Committee said as board performs public functions, it should be brought in under purview of RTI act.This will bring boardfunctioningand funds under public scrutiny.
- One membership norm-A person cannot be a BCCI office-bearer and a state association office-bearer at the same time.
- Uniform state association structure- State associations are responsible for developing grass root infrastructure of the game. But every association today has varied administrative structure like some are voted in through clubs, some through individual businessmen or some through districts. Top 5 posts of the board – President, Secretary, Joint Secretary, treasure and Vice President come through state’s voting. A non-homogenous structure avoids parity and encourages biasness. Therefore committee suggested having a uniform mechanism and structure in every state.
- Three independent authorities to be made- :
- An ombudsman- It’s duty is to provide for dispute resolution mechanism betweenBCCI and members, BCCI and state association, breach of privileges by administrators, players or team offices. A former judge of SC or Chief Justice of high court can be made an ombudsman.
- Ethics officer- Its task is resolution of conflict of interest, investigate misbehaviour, misdemeanour of members, players etc. A former HC judge can be this ethics officer.
- Electoral officer– To oversee the entire election process related to the office bearers like prepof voters list, issues of eligibility of office bearers etc. The officer will be nominated weeks before the date of election.
- To make spot fixing and match fixing a criminal offence.
- To legalize betting with strong safeguards, except for those covered by the BCCI and IPL regulations– People should be allowed to place bets on registered websites.This is one of the most controversial recommendation.
- With regards to the appointment for the post of president, VP, secretary, joint secretary and treasurer of the board certain eligibility criteria has been fixed such as –
- No minister or government servant can be elected to these posts,
- He must be an Indian,
- He must not be above age of 70,
- He must not be an insolvent,
- Someone who has not held office in the BCCI for a cumulative period for nine years.
Furthermore, the report states that each office bearer will have a tenure of three years and can contest for maximum three terms. The office bearers will have a mandatorythree years cooling off period before they can be re-elected for other post.
- Apex council creation and CEO run organisation– BCCI administrative structure to have a CEO under whom 6 professional managers will work. It will take major admin decisions on non-cricketing affairs and day to day management. It will be helped by two committees suggested as written in next point. This CEO+6 managers team will be responsible to a proposed‘apex council’of 9 members.
What is proposed Apex council?
Top body at present is a 14 member BCCI working committee having president of board at top. Lodha Panel committee suggested this to replace with an Apex council. This Apex council will decide the road map for development of the game and monitor professional management(CEO+6managers) and ensure financial accountability. It will comprise of nine members –
- BCCI president
- Joint secretary
The rest of the members will be called ‘Councillors’ and shall include those independent of the BCCI.
- There will be two nominees (a man and a woman) from the Cricket Players’ Association
- One nominee from the Comptroller and Auditor General’s office and
- One elected representative from the BCCI General Body.
- Reducing BCCI committees to two- BCCI has today number of committees for little things which are causing problem in smooth functioning of theboard and conflict of interests. Therefore,Lodha panel has suggested to have only two committees:
- Advisory committee– For technical issues, for tours and tournaments
- Cricket committee- To take care of selection, coaching, performance evaluation and umpiring.
These two committees will help CEO+6 managers
So above two can be summarized as:
- Establishing clear norms for reducing conflict of interests between different parties of the board
- Independent audit to monitor how state associations are using grants given by BCCI. Report findings to the board.
- A player association formation- A steering committee, headed by former Home Secretary G K Pillai, and comprising former captains Mohinder Amarnath and Anil Kumble along with women’s legend Diana Edulji to be formed. It will include all those who have played first-class cricket. For this, a robust registration system has to be designed. Its aim is to lend voice to cricket players and use their knowledge and expertise for the betterment of the game.
- Separate governing bodies for IPL and BCCI-IPL to have a separate Governing Council of 9 members which will be responsible to General Body of BCCI. The council will be composed :
- BCCI Secretary
- BCCI CEO.
- The BCCI Governing Body can nominate two representatives.
- Two IPL franchisees nominees, on an annual rotational basis.
- The CAG’s Councillor on the BCCI Apex Council will be a member.
- One Cricket Players’ Association nominee.
- Senior selection committee to be made up of former international test cricket players.Most capped player to be its chairman.
- Lodha panel committee recommended that during test cricket matches and ODI, commercials could be aired during drinks, lunch and tea intervals only. Broadcast space should not be utilized for ads except primary sponsors.
This complete episode is perfect case study of how lack of self-regulation can lead to an independent and autonomous sport organisation mismanage itself. Complete case reflects drastic governance system failure of the board. It shows how rules were twisted and reshaped to suit individuals. These above recommendations were arrived at by discussions with a lot of members of Indian cricket community and committee’s own observation. SC called it as a “straightforward, rational and understandable”. BCCI has some objections with respect to many of the recommendations. Some of them are discussed below:
- BCCI gets huge revenue through airing of commercials. Recommendation to air them during specific breaks will not be good with respect to free market competitive economy. This will affect health of the game and the revenue it generates. BCCI give this money to state units which use it for the development of the game. In long run it can affect the game drastically.
- Panel raised questions on high betting of average credential players during IPL bidding.It has expressed disappointment over it.As per them it degrades morale of players who bring laurels for the nation and don’t get due attention in bidding. As per committee this causes them ‘heartburn’. This is clear stepping into the territory of the free choice of the franchise and their independent decisions.
- Committee recommended for player association formation which will be funded by BCCI. A strike or revolt by players in between the tournament could seriously blow up the image of board internationally and confidence of public.For ex- it was observed when West Indies player’s association in 2009 boycotted the Test series with the Bangladesh team due to disagreement over contractual issues with West Indies cricket board.
- Experts have raised some objections on one not much highlighted recommendation of the report. Panel says efforts should be made to lay down alternate turfs like astro turfs in the existing stadiums of cricket. This is to make them available to other games like hockey in order to ensure all round development of sports. This is not an easy task and moreover it can damage pitch in long run. Switching over to turf and again to ground and this oscillation doesn’t look professional too. Further, it can cause conflict between different sports associations.
- Apparently it seems BCCI does not want to come under RTI. BCCI is a registered society under Tamil Nadu society act.Also BCCI says under RTI Act it can-not come as it does not receive any grants from the government. Hence it should not be made to disclose its affairs to all and sundry. This is wrong as lot of money which is earned is through ticket sales or through selling of television rights and sponsorships which is public money and therefore monitoring is a must.
- BCCI Board says that one vote for one state principle will be unfair to traditional cricketing powerhouses like Mumbai and Baroda. As according to it historically west zone of country is more responsible for development of the game. Truth is, these associations exist from a time when there was no Maharashtra or Gujarat state per se. And Mumbai association was formed in 1930, the Baroda one came into being in 1937.When Maharashtra and Gujarat were carved out of the erstwhile State of Bombay on May 1960, these were merged with the respective states, therefore claim of BCCI does not ‘traditionally’ stands correct.
- Lodha report recommended that Railways, Services and All India Universities, along with the Cricket Club of India and National Cricket Club (Kolkata), be relegated to associate members with their voting rights withdrawn. This has already invited legal intervention from them in the report implementation.
- BCCI lawyer cited that inclusion of CAG nominee can cause suspension of it from ICC. As International body rules are against inclusion of such ‘govt nominees’. SC questioned then why inclusion of so many ministers were there in past which has left BCCI confused now. In reply to SC it said that minister provide ‘leadership and experience’. Clearly this seems to be tactics to avoid accountability on the part of BCCI.
- BCCI has objected on eligibility age bar of 70 in apex council. It also has raised objection against one state one vote recommendation. BCCI told SC that it will invite more corruption and scandals like in FIFA. It fears members will be bribed like in 2015 FIFA scandal member countries where there is hardly any football activity were bribed to vote in a particular manner.It seems to be an attempt to keep the strength of west zone cricket association lobby strong in board. This is because SC said,in FIFA “If this is the first scandal in 50 or 100 years, it is hardly a test on the workability of the policy”. This is true and correct observation.
- BCCI is also against formation of cricket players association. In 1989 and in 2002 Kapil dev led association of Indian crickets and late Masur Ali Khan Pataudi Indian cricket player association(ICPA) were dssolved by BCCI. ICPA had even giants like Sachin Tendulkar, Saurav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid, Anil Kumble and Srinath like members and managers. Today India is only country which do not have any recognized players’ association. This stems from the observation that board wants to remain powerhouse of all decisions and don’t want to decentralize and negotiate any of them.
- With 30% taxation, legalization of betting can generate revenue of 10-12 thousand crores. BCCI can not do this. State Govt has to come forward. Colonial law of the Public Gambling Act, 1867 that prohibited all kinds of gambling prior to 1947, has been defunctnow. However 7th schedule empowers states to make law on it. In 1996 SC dismissed petition that tried to outlaw betting on horse race saying it involves ‘skill’ rather than chance. Cricket too involves ‘skills’. Experts say there are laws for murders too but it has not stopped murdering so how legalizing betting can stop frauds?
It seems BCCI approach is two pronged, one, it is trying to follow ‘due process’ by studying report and second raising objections on important recommendations which are paramount in its restructuring. Lodha panel has tried to push aside the influence of persona on management and strengthen the institution. Opening to accountability will restore confidence of the public and set a role model for other sports too.