All cool now!

All cool now!

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Justice RM Lodha, whose committee introduced sweeping changes in the BCCI and its state units, appeared displeased after the Supreme Court on Wednesday, for the second time, amended its own judgment. 

The Apex Court decided to amend the contentious cooling-off clause, paving the way for current BCCI president Sourav Ganguly and secretary Jay Shah to continue for another term in their posts, which otherwise would not have been possible with the mandatory cooling-off period after holding two consecutive three-year terms in the BCCI or the state association or a combination of both. Ganguly was president of Cricket Association of Bengal before becoming BCCI boss, while Shah headed the Gujarat Cricket Association. 

Justice Lodha to mid-day

“It seems the past judgments of the Supreme Court must be so grossly erroneous that a need arose to amend its own judgment several times,” Justice Lodha told mid-day from New Delhi.   

Previous amendments

On July 16, 2016, the Supreme Court pronounced its first verdict, accepting the reforms suggested by the Lodha Committee. There was a mandatory cooling-off period of three years after each term be it at the BCCI or state association.

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On August 9, 2018, the Apex Court amended the cooling-off clause to six years—at BCCI or in a state association or a combination of both.  

On Wednesday, the bench of Justice DY Chandrachud and Hima Kohli, who heard the matter for two consecutive days, decided to further relax the cooling-off period by allowing office-bearers to continue for two terms in BCCI and state association before the three-year cooling-off period comes into effect. So, an office-bearer can have a total of 12 years at a stretch considering he/she is elected in the BCCI and state association for consecutive terms of three-year each. 
Justice Lodha cited the example of a mountain climber to express his disappointment over the constant amendments to cooling-off period. “It [cooling-off period] is like a mountain of snow which looks difficult to climb. So, the climbers [read administrators] waited for the weather to change,” the former Chief Justice of India remarked. 

During the hearing, Justice Chandrachud and Justice Kohli felt the cooling-off period is “unduly stringent” and needed modification. They felt the relaxation in cooling-off period does not go against the ‘spirit of the judgment’. 

‘Won’t dilute the spirit’ 

“We’re of the view that the proposed amendment would not dilute the spirit and object of the cooling-off period, if implemented after an individual has completed two terms at either BCCI or state federations. We, therefore, accept this amendment,” the bench said, according to an IANS report. 
Other amendments were also sought at Wednesday’s hearing, where the bench agreed that only those convicted of offence will be barred from contesting elections. 

As per the current rules and regulations, those chargesheeted are disallowed to contest. 

The bench agreed to modify the scope of public servants. Only ministers and government officials will be barred from contesting, paving way for Member of Parliaments and MLAs to participate in cricket administration.  

Do these modifications hurt Justice Lodha? “See, we did our job and recommended certain reforms which were required. We had spoken to all the stakeholders of the game before coming out with our detailed report. Our report was accepted by the Supreme Court [with certain modifications],” Justice Lodha said.   

In a nutshell

. Cooling off period after two terms. That is six years in state association and six years in the BCCI before the cooling-off period triggers in. 

. Disqualifications of those with criminal charges changed to those with convictions (not involving punishment of just a fine). 

. Cricketers involved in other sports administration can contest polls for office-bearer posts.

. Disqualifications on the grounds for holding public office should only apply for ministers and public officials, paving way for MPs and MLAs.  

Also Read: Cooling-off period will deprive worthy administrators: BCCI tells SC