A batsman strikes a ball during a cricket match at the Bombay Gymkhana in Mumbai (Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg)

India’s Richest Sports Body Has Money It Can’t Spend

The Supreme Court on Friday tightened the noose around the Indian cricket board, pushing it further to implement the Justice Lodha panel’s recommendations.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has been barred from taking any financial decisions on contracts and media rights, beyond a threshold which will be set by the Lodha panel. Any transaction above the stipulated amount will need the panel’s go ahead.

An independent auditor will also be appointed to oversee and scrutinise existing contracts that have been entered by the country’s richest sporting body.

Implementing Reforms

The Chief Justice of India-led bench has granted the BCCI another two weeks to implement the reforms suggested by the Lodha panel. The top office bearers, president Anurag Thakur and secretary Ajay Shirke will have to appear before the Justice Lodha committee to give an update on the changes made to the board, and also submit a compliance report before the Supreme Court once the suggested changes have been adopted. International Cricket Council chairman Shashank Manohar will also have to be intimated as per today’s directions.

The stay on any fund disbursements to state cricket association will continue till the matter is taken up for hearing on December 5.

The court did stop short of replacing the entire top brass of BCCI though, as had been recommended by the Lodha panel, choosing to give it some more time to implement the reforms.

The Justice Lodha committee had approached the Supreme Court seeking to replace the BCCI's top brass with administrators from the field of cricket and the judiciary.

The panel sought this change on account of non-compliance of the court’s orders by the cricket board.

The Lodha committee has also raised objections to remarks made by former apex court judge Markandey Katju against the committee and the judiciary in his report to the BCCI.

Justice Katju had called the Supreme Court ruling on BCCI reforms as unconstitutional and said that the court should have left it to the Parliament to decide on the reform process.

Scepticism Remains

Justice RM Lodha who has also been entrusted with the job of appointing the independent auditor to scrutinise BCCI’s contracts, hopes that the governing council members will allow the auditor and the panel to function independently, and implement the apex court’s order.