BCCI treasurer Arun Dhumal bats for making match-fixing criminal offence

The BCCI’s 88th Annual General Meeting (AGM) to be held in Mumbai on December 1, will consider some proposed amendments in the existing cricket board constitution, including a relaxation in the cooling-off clause for the president and secretary and other office bearers. It has also been proposed that the disqualification clause would be applicable to an office-bearer or an apex council member if he/she sentenced to imprisonment by a court for a criminal offence for the period of three years and above rather than after being charged by a court for committing any criminal offence.

“The proposed amendments to be considered in the item no. (H) (3) (To discuss and pass with or without modifications the proposed amendments to the Rules and Regulations of the BCCI) are enclosed herewith. The rest of the agenda papers will follow shortly,” BCCI secretary Jay Shah mentioned in the AGM notice that was issued on Saturday.

As per the BCCI constitution, the Rules and Regulations can be amended “by a 3/4th majority of the members present” at the AGM or a Special General Meeting (SGM). But to put them into effect, the Supreme Court’s approval is required. “Any such amendment will not be given effect to without the leave of the Hon’ble Supreme Court.”

However, the board feels the existing rule is not practical and seeking the court’s approval for an amendment in constitution wasn’t part of the Lodha reforms, nor was mentioned in the Supreme Court’s principal judgment. “The final constitution of the BCCI contains a requirement that any amendments to the constitution have to be approved by the Supreme Court. This was not part of the Lodha Committee reforms. This did not form part of the principal judgement of the Supreme Court dated 18th July 2016. By this provision the members’ autonomy and right to seek legitimate changes would every time have to be approved by the Supreme Court. This is not practical,” says the explanation given by the BCCI.

The existing BCCI constitution says an office bearer, who has held any post for two consecutive terms of three years each either in state association or in the BCCI (or a combination of both), will have go for a three-year cooling-off before he/she becomes eligible to hold an office or work as a councillor/committee-member again.

The proposed amendment says: “A President or Secretary who has served in such position for two consecutive terms in the BCCI shall not be eligible to contest any further election without completing a cooling off period of three years. During the cooling off period, such ‘Office bearer’ shall not be a member of the Governing Council or of any committee whatsoever of the BCCI. The expression ‘President’ or ‘Secretary’ should not be permitted to be circumvented by being a member of any other committee or of the Governing Council in BCCI, as the case may be.”

Simply put, the proposed amendment aims at separating the cooling-off period for the BCCI and state association and if passed at the AGM by a 3/4th majority, will allow the cricket board president and secretary to hold their respective offices for six years at a stretch irrespective of their term as office-bearers in state associations.

The explanation given for the proposed amendment is that the cooling-off clause, in its present form, is proving to be an impediment to selecting experienced hands.

“This restriction is proving to be a big blow to selecting talented and experienced hands. This also affects the continuity of the individual’s ability to serve in administration unnecessarily. Hence, cooling off can be restricted to BCCI and the member state respectively,” says the explanation.

The proposed amendment will allow Sourav Ganguly to helm the BCCI for two consecutive terms. As per the present constitution, Ganguly will have to go for a three-year cooling-off after July next year, as he has already served as a Cricket Association of Bengal office bearer for over five years.

Amendments have been sought in the disqualification clause as well, notably how a person will be treated if he/she has committed any criminal offence. The existing BCCI constitution says: “A person shall be disqualified from being an Office Bearer, a member of the Governing Council or any Committee or a representative to the International Cricket Council or any similar organisation if he or she: g) Has been charged by a Court of Law for having committed any criminal offence, i.e. an order framing charges has been passed by a court of law having competent jurisdiction.”

The proposed amendment calls for disqualification in this case to be restricted to: “Has been convicted by a Court of Law for commission of a criminal offence and sentenced to imprisonment for a period not less than three (3) years.” This means, two years behind bars for a criminal offence, for example, shouldn’t be an impediment to hold a BCCI post.

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Age 70 no bar

Further amendments have been sought in the disqualification clause, like the provision to allow a person aged 70 years and above to represent the BCCI at the ICC. “In order to protect the interests of BCCI which are being steadily eroded at ICC, people with experience of negotiation and personal interaction with other member nations should be made the representatives,” the explanation says.

This amendment will allow former BCCI office-bearers like N Srinivasan, who are above 70 years of age, to represent the Indian board at the ICC.

An amendment has also been sought to drop the IPL governing council members from the disqualification clause as the governing council is “only a committee of BCCI”. The proposed amendment also says “holding any office or post in a sports or athletic association or federation apart from cricket” shouldn’t be a bar.

The proposed amendments also aim to curb the chief executive’s power. “The Management personnel, the staff and the CEO shall work under the direct supervision, control and direction of the Secretary”.