On January 4, 2016 the Supreme Court appointed Lodha Committee proposed some measures for the betterment of Cricket in Bharat including RTI Act, legalising betting, formation of players’ association and many more. But the question is, will the committee get success in cleaning the rot in game within the game?
With an attempt to clean cricket, the Justice RM Lodha Committee which was made to look into the allegations of corruption within the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) proposed separate governing bodies for the BCCI and the IPL in a bid to partially separate their functioning. The pannel came into existence on January 22, 2015. The Committee submitted the 159-page report to the honourable Supreme Court on January 4, 2016, which will decide whether these recommendations would be binding on the BCCI. It has been reported that the Lodha committee had held 38 meetings with Board officials, cricketers and other stakeholders.
Highlights of Lodha Committee Proposal
The three-member committee of Justice (Retd) RM Lodha, Justice (Retd) Ashok Bhan and Justice (Retd) RV Raveendran submitted the report on restructuring of the BCCI and reiterated that these are not legally bindings on the BCCI as yet. Former Bharateeya cricket captain Bishan Singh Bedi welcomed the Lodha committee’s suggestions but cautioned that there could be attempts to find loopholes.
From Coalgate to Cricket
Justice RM Lodha, presently working as Chairman of the Supreme Court Committee on Reforms in Cricket is known for his bold statements and steps. He was the 41st Chief Justice of Supreme Court and the man who embarrassed the CBI referring to it as a caged parrot speaking in its master’s voice during the Coalgate scandal in 2013.
Earlier in July 2015, the same Committee recommended two-year suspension of Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and Rajasthan Royals (RR) from the very famous and cash-rich IPL. Tainted CSK Team Principal and ICC Chairman N Srinivasan’s son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan was also handed a life-ban for indulging in illegal betting activity during 2013 IPL along with former RR co-owner Raj Kundra.
There are different reactions coming from Cricket world on this proposal. BCCI expressed its unhappiness over several reforms recommended by the committee. According to sources, the board will also send the committee’s suggestions to all the affiliated state units before calling a meeting to discuss the suggestions.
In the proposal, the committee rooted for a nine-member apex council to replace the existing 14 member BCCI working committee and suggested that five of the nine office-bearers should not be either government servants or ministers and no office bearer should hold position for two consecutive years. To ensure equitable voting pattern, the committee also suggested ‘one state one vote scheme’ and ‘one person one post’ in cricket associations which seem to be the major headache for BCCI.
Betting in Cricket, the major issue
Among the most sensational recommendations by the panel was the suggestion to legalise betting. According to the panel, the move would help to curb corruption in the game and so it recommended that except for players and officials, people should be allowed to bet on registered sites. It is not hidden that people do betting but it’s a criminal offence in Bharat. If you go by the present situation, betting in cricket is not feasible. It’s a matter of debate. Experts say that the government can earn lot by assuming rate of taxation on earnings by betting. Estimates suggest that the illegal betting market of Bharat is of Rs 300,000 crore. The question is, it is not the BCCI or the Supreme Court that can possibly make sports’ betting legal, but the Government of Bharat will have to take a call on this. There is also a recommendation for match/spot-fixing to be made a criminal offence.
On the whole issue, Chetan Sharma, former Cricketer commented to Organiser, “I am very much in favour of Lodha Committee’s proposal. The best thing about this proposal is selection committee to comprise only of former Test cricketers which will be good for cricket. If BCCI and cricketers do the things mutually then cricket in Bharat will reach on another high.” He also favoured the recommendation for spot fixing to be made a criminal offence. There should be strict laws so that a player thinks should 100 times before doing anything illegal. Now Board and advertisement companies are paying lot to the players which wasn’t available in our times. So there is no need to indulge in spot fixing and match fixing. Sharma hasn’t mentioned lot about betting but said, “Betting is related to law and if court thinks that this is ok for the betterment of game, then there is no problem in this. We can only hope that the things go in favour of cricket.”
Some former players seem to be in favour of betting by giving the logic that it will generate a lot of revenue and can be used for the betterment of the society of the needy. There are so many athletes who play other sports who really require the resources to play. It can help them.
Former Test players in the spotlight
The recommendation about selection committee to comprise only of former Test cricketers, with the player with most caps heading the committee is believed to be the major highlight of this report. If you go back to the history, never before players have been given as much importance when it comes to their participation in administration of cricket.
One State, One Member, One Unit: Worst affected states
With the proposal of one associate per state, Maharashtra and Gujarat are likely to be badly affected. Both the states are possessing three separate associations, while states like Bihar and Chhattisgarh have none. The state of Gujarat boasts of three cricket associations-Gujarat, Baroda and Saurashtra. Similarly Maharashtra boasts Mumbai, Vidarbha and Maharashtra. Presently all six are full members of the BCCI with voting rights.
It will be early to say that the proposals suggested by the Lodha committee will clean the game but if we look at the past of the committee, there is a ‘ray of hope’ in darkness. It would not be the final verdict for the BCCI but they are in no position to ignore this. Nishant Kumar Azad