Veteran politician, sports administrator and ex-president of ICC and BCCI, Sharad Pawar, has told the Supreme Court that ‘overzealousness’ in reforming cricket could destroy the game itself and alleged that the Committee of Administrator’s draft BCCI constitution had gone much beyond the Lodha panel’s recommendations.
Presenting his credentials, Pawar said: “The applicant being a veteran cricket administrator has played a pivotal role in developing and shaping cricket administration in the country. He is one of the people who has not only witnessed the rise of the board from its very humble beginnings, but has played a significant role in its development. It was under his leadership that for the first time pension scheme for former players was introduced and women’s cricket was brought under the board. The world’s most successful tournament IPL was conceptualised during his tenure.”
Pawar’s application, through advocates Neela Gokhale and Kamakshi Mehlwal, said: “Today, the BCCI finds itself in the eye of the storm mainly because it is the richest cricket body in the world, which has further led to a perception that its working lacks transparency and previous litigation involving issues of nepotism and conflict of interest (N Srinivasan-Gurunath Meiyappan case), which acted as a build-up to the present proceedings, have further strengthened the said perception.”
Pawar conceded that there were inherent deficiencies, as in any kind of administration, in the functioning of BCCI and that “some reformative steps were due to be taken to remove existing defects in the organisation to ensure transparency”. However, he said in its overzealousness to reform cricket administration, the CoA’s draft BCCI constitution had “gone even beyond the scope and ambit of Lodha panel recommendations, as accepted by the SC in its July 18 last year order.”
Arguing against one-state one-vote criteria, the NCP chief said: “The accepted recommendation that one state shall have only one association is certainly a violation of the right of an association member of BCCI.”
Referring to Mumbai Cricket Association’s rich contribution to development of the sport, both in terms of number of players and infrastructure, Pawar said depriving MCA of voting rights in BCCI in the name of one-state one-vote would not help in infusing transparency in the functioning of the board.
He said right to form an association was a fundamental right guaranteed under Article 19(1)(C) of the Constitution.”The applicant submits that the draft BCCI constitution appears to be contradicting the SC’s July 18 order, in which the court had affirmed the protection under Article 19(1)(C) to state cricket associations. Once it is done, no fetters can be placed on the working of the associations, conditions of eligibility etc. Further amendments and modifications in the draft BCCI constitution, which amount to modifying the SC orders, impact the fundamental rights of the applicant. This is contrary to the existing legislative and constitutional scheme,” he said.
Pawar stepped down as MCA president in 2016 after the SC accepted the Lodha committee’s recommendation barring those above 70 years from cricket administration.