Television

Top court throws out BCCI's review petition on Lodha recommendations

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MUMBAI: The Supreme Court today dismissed the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) petition that sought a review of the court's validation of the Lodha panel recommendations. The battle for IPL's digital rights, meanwhile, is heating up, with heavyweights such as Star India, Sony Pictures, Facebook, Jio, Twitter, and Amazon in the contention. Facebook lately has been focusing more on live-streaming content. Twitter, which has been live streaming NFL games on its platform, is also looking for more sports tie-ups. Amazon recently launched its prime video service. Reliance Jio, meanwhile, has been providing free content to its users on its Jio TV app and is the top contender given its scale. Bidding for IPL digital rights closes on 25 October and the results of the process will be announced the same day.

In a landmark judgement in July this year, the top court had accepted a majority of the reforms recommendations made by the three-member panel appointed by the court and ordered the BCCI to respect it. The dismissal comes a day after the Supreme Court reserved its order and gave BCCI more time to implement the Lodha recommendations.

It was after interacting with 74 people involved with the sport that the Lodha Committee came up with its recommended reforms. The panel spoke to former India captains, first class and international players, coaches, managers & administrators, authors, lawyers journalists, and club owners, and Justice Mukul Mudgal.

The committee also spoke to Ajay Shirke (present BCCI secretary), Shashank Manohar (former BCCI president), Amitabh Chaudhary (present joint secretary), Anurag Thakur (present president), Anirudh Chaudhry (present treasurer), Gautam Roy (present vice-president, BCCI), Rajeev Shukla (present IPL chairman), Ratnakar Shetty (former joint secretary), Sanjay Jagdale (former secretary and selector), Shivlal Yadav (former interim president, BCCI) and the late BCCI president, Jagmohan Dalmiya. It has now become clear that a number of recommendations were actually proposed by a former state representative in the BCCI, and who is now a senior BCCI functionary.

BCCI had called the judgement 'unconstitutional' and the three-member Supreme Court bench, headed by Chief Justice T S Thakur which accepted the reforms put forward, had a 'prejudiced approach' against the board. BCCI had also formed a team of lawyers, headed by the retired justice Markandeya Katju, to present the case on behalf of the board.

Katju stated that the apex court's verdict wasn't binding on BCCI as the former was legislative in its identity. He further said: "The matter ought to have been forwarded by the Supreme Court with the Lodha recommendations to the Parliament with its own recommendation. So that Parliament could enact a law if required.

While addressing the press, Katju claimed, "What the Supreme Court has done is unconstitutional and illegal. There has been a violation of principles of the Constitution. Under our Constitution, we have legislature, executive and judiciary. There is a broad separation of functions. It's the legislature's prerogative to make laws. If judiciary starts making laws, one is setting a dangerous precedent."

The dismissal of the review petition comes a day after the Supreme Court decided to reserve their order in the case after Kapil Sibal, BCCI's legal counsel, requested for more time to ensure the complete implementation of the recommendations. Then Thakur, the CJI, asked for a written undertaking from the board on the dates by which it will implement the Lodha reforms in toto.

The Lodha committee was established in January 2015 to decide the degree of punishment for those found guilty by the Mudgal report, which looked into the Indian Premier League spot-fixing scandal of 2013. The three-member panel was also given the responsibility of recommending structural and administrative changes to the BCCI.

Meantime, online social networking service Facebook reportedly attempted to be in the race for the media rights of BCCI's Indian Premier League. Facebook is likely to bid for digital rights of IPL. Twitter too had shown interest over the digital rights of the league. Facebook sought digital rights to live-stream India's biggest sporting tournament. The social networking giant had purchased the tender documents for the bidding process.

Facebook had curated a excellent experience for the preceding 2016 IPL season, with scoreboards, pages, videos and more. Nearly 360 million posts, comments and likes were posted on the social network during the tournament.

Twitter India Head of Sports Partnerships Aneesh Madani told ET that they were constantly evaluating opportunities to transform live sports experiences in partnership with their most valued global sports partners and IPL 2016 tender purchase was representative.

BCCI alleged in the Supreme Court that the Justice RM Lodha committee was trying to “run cricket” in the country by giving directions regarding match schedule, including the cash-rich IPL, which was beyond its jurisdiction. Senior advocate Sibal also questioned the purpose of recommendation to have three or five selectors for selecting the team and asked “does it serve the purpose of transparency?”

“BCCI has floated global tenders for IPL and the terms and conditions are based on standards followed globally,” he said. To this, the bench said if Lodha committee does something beyond its jurisdiction, BCCI is at liberty to approach the apex court.

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