New Delhi: Former Chief Justice of India RM Lodha on Friday said he is “not disappointed” with the recent judgement of the Supreme Court, which allowed the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to make proposed amendments to its constitution and relax the cooling-off period requirement. As per the new order, the cooling-off period for office bearers will kick in after two consecutive terms at either the BCCI or at the state-association level. The office bearers can now have a maximum of 12 years at one go: two three-year terms at the state-association level and two three-year terms at the BCCI, and after this, the cooling-off will be applicable.
The decision will allow the current set of office bearers, led by board president Sourav Ganguly and secretary Jay Shah, to be in office until 2025. Ganguly and Shah had already served one term each at the state and BCCI levels and would have been disqualified under the existing rule. However, they can now serve an additional term at the BCCI.
Reacting to the latest order, Justice Lodha, who headed a Supreme Court-mandated panel that recommended a series of reforms in the Board of Control for Cricket in India six years ago, spoke exclusively to IANS and shared his thoughts.
Below are excerpts of the interview:
Q: How do you see the recent judgment by the Supreme Court on the BCCI constitution amendment issue?
A: Look as I already indicated earlier, so far as our report and cooling-off element is concerned, that was accepted by the Supreme Court in its first order on 18 July 2016. So, our report was accepted. Thereafter it was changed on 9 August 2018. And, now on 14 September 2022. So, maybe, the Supreme Court found that earlier orders were substantially wrong, and that needed to be corrected. Perhaps maybe they changed (it). The judicial conscience may have been shaken, that such an erroneous order cannot be allowed to stand.
Q: Are you disappointed with the latest development?
A: No, no, not disappointed. Why? Look, our report was accepted by the Supreme Court. Cooling-off period, which we recommended, was accepted by the court on 18 July 2016, after threadbare discussion. So, if thereafter, some changes are made by the Supreme Court, the Supreme Court, in its wisdom, can do it. So far as I’m concerned or the committee’s concerned, we’re not disappointed. What we recommended was accepted in the first instance.
Q: Do you think the cooling-off period is the key to cleaning up the administration in India?
A: Yes, that was one of the very important elements of our report. Actually, it is one of the fundamental principles of governance of any institution, any organisation that monopolies are not created. So, the cooling-off period actually eliminates that creation of monopoly. After one tenure or one term you take cooling (off) and let other new persons come, and that helps in eradicating monopoly.
So, it’s very, very important, and you know, in the background in which actually the Supreme Court-appointed committee for structural reforms had this (was) because people earlier were at the helm of affairs for years and years; the same four or five people were holding the positions. So, therefore, cooling-off is a very important element. But, now, the Supreme Court may have thought in its wisdom that it needed to be changed. So, they did.
Q: What do you think made the Supreme Court change its stance on the issue?
A: Look, I can’t anticipate that. The Supreme Court must have found that by the acceptance of Lodha report on cooling-off in the first order, or by the 9 August 2018 order, some gross error was committed and that needed to be corrected. Otherwise, you know, the Supreme Court judgments have already become final.
Q: Do you think the BCCI played smart this time?
A: Arre bhai, BCCI has shown that who’s the boss!