Reacting to game-changing amendments the BCCI has proposed to its Supreme Court-approved constitution, Vinod Rai, chairman of the SC-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA) that implemented the reforms with great struggle, says the Board will have to “convince” the apex court that some of the rules the judges aspproved were “impractical”. (CRICKET NEWS)
The newly-elected BCCI set-up has proposed decisive changes to the rules pertaining to: the much-opposed tenure rules for its office-bearers, their cooling-off period between tenures (both at the BCCI and state associations), persons holding ‘public office’ barred from holding posts, and the secretary’s powers, particularly over the employed executives. But the most significant amendment proposed is to do away with the last sentence -- the lifeline of the new constitution -- of Rule 45: “Any such amendment will not be given effect to without the leave of the Hon’ble Supreme Court.” If this sentence is scrapped, the prolonged and expensive exercise of cricket reforms – discounting the priceless time SC devoted to this case and cores the BCCI/affiliates spent on litigation opposing the reforms -- will effectively be annulled. If it is indeed scrapped, the BCCI will get a free hand to make further amendments to itself, without needing the SC’s approval every time it does so.
The six proposed amendments are part of the agenda for the BCCI’s annual general body meeting scheduled for December 1 in Mumbai. But since the BCCI constitution says that no amendments could be made without the SC’s permission, the Board will have to inform the apex court about the changes at the next hearing, slated for November 27 and 28.
Rai had antagonised many present and former cricket administrators, even though he was only carrying out a SC order vis-à-vis reforms and implementing the new constitution, written by the SC-appointed Lodha Committee. So, won’t Rai be disappointed and disheartened if the tenure or cooling-off stipulations are diluted? “Why should I? I have also read that there are certain practical difficulties in implementing that cooling-off. And if the cooling-off is implemented, experienced people will not be available etc. It’s for the BCCI to decide and for the SC to take a view on it. For whatever reasons, the SC decided what it decided [the constitution]. Now, it’s for the BCCI to convince the SC that ‘look, it’s impractical’. I have no view on it. If they want me to change it and implement something, whatever the SC says I will still implement the same,” Rai, who had already demitted the CoA’s office, told Outlook.
Rai, who handed over the charge to a new set of BCCI office-bearers following its election on October 23, says his approach while implementing the reforms was “totally focussed, totally clinical”.
“My approach to this is very clinical. You must understand why. Before we joined [on January 30, 2017], the SC had, in 2016, given its verdict and we had no flexibility in it. We had to implement the mandate of the SC. And we did that. Finally, the SC ordered, on the basis of our status reports etc., the final constitution on August 16, 2018, and we had to implement that constitution. So, my approach to it was totally focussed, totally clinical,” said the 71-year-old former bureaucrat.
“Now, after we have left, if they [BCCI office-bearers] want to change it, it is their free will. I have nothing this way or that way to say about it. It’s their total free will. Now, it is between the AGM and the Supreme Court. It’s because what they are seeking to change is nothing what the CoA had ordained, if I may say so, or the Lodha Committee. What they are seeking to change is the direction given by the SC. I have no views either side,” said the former CAG whose report on a Coal Scam shook political circles in 2014.
Rai may not appear to be affected by the proposed changes to the BCCI constitution, but his heart may have something different to say. He and co-members of the CoA were in office for 33 months, only because of the opposition to reforms from all quarters. This was evident from the fact that when the Supreme Court approved the new constitution on August 16, 2018, the court was bombarded with 92 interlocutory applications from various parties opposing the reforms.
If the SC approves the amendments, it will give wide ranging power to the BCCI office-bearers, particularly to secretary Jay Shah, son of Home Minister Amit Shah.