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SC bars BCCI from releasing funds to state associations; next hearing on October 17


The Supreme Court on Friday barred the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) from releasing any funds to its state affiliates until they give an unconditional undertaking that they wil comply with the organisational reforms as recommended by the Justice R.M. Lodha Committee. A bench headed by Chief Justice Tirath Singh Thakur also said that the state associations of the BCCI will not disburse the funds already given to them by the country's apex cricketing body till they file an unconditional undertaking that they will implement the Lodha Committee recommendations.

The court has asked BCCI President Anurag Thakur to file a personal afidavit stating whether he has written to International Cricket Council (ICC) Chairman David Richardson, asking the game's world governing body to take a stand that the Supreme Court judgement and the Lodha Committee recommendations would amount to government interference in the afairs of the BCCI.

The BCCI has already disbursed funds to 17 state units. Around 13 state units are yet to receive any funds from the BCCI and the apex court has stated that the board must not disburse any money to them until they give an undertaking that they will abide by the directives of the Lodha panel. The Supreme Court had lashed out at the BCCI last week, warning that the board will be forced to comply with the Lodha panel verdict if they did not implement the suggested changes by October 6.

On Thursday, senior counsel Kapil Sibal, appearing on behalf of the BCCI, has pleaded before the court that it would be difficult for the BCCI to give an unconditional undertaking by Friday that it will hold back the funding of its state affiliates who would resist organisational reforms. In response the bench of Chief Justice Tirath Singh Thakur, Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud had asserted that it would pass an order to that effect on Friday.

In an indication of the possible future course, the court in the course of Thursday's hearing had indicated that it had two options — one to appoint a panel of administrators to oversee the transition in BCCI or ask the Lodha Committee to do it. The bench said the Lodha Committee could give more time to the country's apex cricketing body to carry out the recommendations or appoint a panel of administrators to effect the transition to new reformed order.

Last week, the BCCI's special general meeting (SGM) had decided to accept some of the recommendations put forward by the Lodha Committee although they continued to resist the order regarding the removal of the BCCI top brass. The SGM had also decided to form an apex council to look into the working of the BCCI as per the report submitted by the Lodha panel to the apex court. The representative of Comptroller and Auditor General will also be included as a member of the apex council as well as the Indian Premier League (IPL) governing council.

Apart from the formation of the apex council, some of the other significant decisions at the meeting were formation of a special committee for the differently abled and a committee for women's cricket. The formation of the players' association and their representation in the committee was also agreed upon. The SGM authorised the BCCI CEO to contact the steering committee as proposed by the Lodha Committee and commence the formation of the cricket players association.

The members were also unanimous in giving voting rights to associate members as per the guidelines of the International Cricket Committee (ICC). Puducherry will also to be granted associate membership of the BCCI. The SGM also accepted guidelines regarding code of conduct for players and team officials, anti-doping code, anti-racism code, anti-corruption code and operational rules as suggested by the Lodha Committee for implementation for the next IPL season.

The stipulation that there must be a 15-day gap before and after the Indian Premier League (IPL) has also been contested by the BCCI. The BCCI had warned that the Indian team may have to pull out of the Champions Trophy or next year's IPL may have to abandoned if the recommendations by the Lodha panel are fully implemented.

The BCCI had also reacted dramatically to the Lodha Committee's direction to banks to freeze its accounts, threatening to call off the remaining matches of New Zealand's ongoing tour of India. BCCI President Anurag Thakur has asserted that it may not be possible to hold the rest of the matches in the series, including one Test and five one-day matches as he is unable to withdraw any money since the banks have frozen their accounts completely.

Justice Lodha had however, criticised the BCCI's stand, asserting that the panel has directed that enough funds should be available to conduct the daily administrative activities of the board and there is no question of discontinuing the New Zealand series.

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