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US$ 4.5 bn expected from IPL rights; SC recommends accounts scrutiny

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MUMBAI: The Supreme Court on Friday froze all financial transactions between the BCCI and state cricket associations by directing the apex body not to disburse any funds till it resolves to abide by the Justice RM Lodha panel recommendations on reforms by 3 December . The top court ordered that none of the BCCI's member-state associations will get a rupee till it complies in "letter and spirit" with the Lodha Committee reforms.  

In a judgment, which was not announced beforehand or notified in the court's cause list, a Bench, led by Chief Justice of India T.S. Thakur stood firm by its October 7 decision to choke the financial stream of the BCCI's 25 state cricket associations till they fall in line. The judgment, pronounced by Justice D Y Chandrachud, asked the panel secretary to send a copy of the apex court order to the ICC chairman Shashank Manohar.

The judgment asked the committee to appoint an independent auditor to scrutinise the BCCI accounts and set financial limits for contracts. According to reports, BCCI is expecting close to USD 4.5 billion from sale of three IPL rights - TV, internet and mobile.

BCCI president Anurag Thakur and secretary Ajay Shirke have been ordered to file compliance reports before the Committee and the Supreme Court in two weeks.

Chief Justice Thakur, on October 7, made the court's stand clear by ordering that the BCCI will not disburse Rs. 16.73 crore each to 12 state cricket associations. These associations were yet to get the balance payment of their share from nearly Rs. 2,500 crore the BCCI had received towards compensation on account of termination of Champion League T 20.

The appointment of auditors is significant as the multi-million dollar Indian Premier League (IPL) media rights are to be awarded for the next 10 years, starting 2018. Sony Pictures Networks holds the current IPL media rights till 2017, which it won with a whopping USD 1.6 billion bid. 

Star India, Twitter, Facebook, Sony Pictures and Reliance Jio are now the major names in fray for the media rights.

Here are the top developments of the BCCI-Lodha panel case: On July 14, 2016, a two-judge Supreme Court bench, that included current Chief Justice of India TS Thakur, empowered the Justice RM Lodha-led panel to implement a series of reforms to bring in more transparency in BCCI's style of governance. The committee suggested major reforms that included age caps, tenure restrictions, one-man-one-post, one state-one-vote, among others. The reforms were binding and would apply to the Board as well as its state units.

Lodha panel set BCCI two deadlines - September 30 to make constitutional changes (adopt the Memorandum of Association and Rules) and December 15 for the Board to form a nine-member Apex committee that will replace the powerful working committee

BCCI appointed former Supreme Court judge Justice Markandey Katju to review the Lodha panel recommendations. Katju called the Lodha panel "unconstitutional and illegal." The BCCI promptly filed a review petition in the Supreme Court in July.

In August, BCCI secretary met the Lodha committee saying the AGM will conduct "routine" business. On the contrary, the Board advertised inviting applications for the post of selectors. Its agenda also included formation of a new working committee and even an ombudsman - all in defiance of Lodha panel orders.

Saying the BCCI conducted more than just "routine" matters, the Lodha panel filed a status report to the Supreme Court on September 28, complaining of non-compliance of its orders. The panel wanted BCCI's top brass to be "superseded". 

BCCI, on October 1, cherry-picked a few Lodha panel recommendations but made no decision on the important proposals like one-state-one-unit and age and tenure caps for officials. BCCI also decided to disburse large sums of money (approximately Rs 400 crore) earned from TV rights to state units as infrastructure grants.

Lodha panel told BCCI's bankers - Bank of Maharashtra and Yes Bank - to stop disbursing grants to state units without its approval. BCCI president Anurag Thakur told media that freezing of accounts will force BCCI to cancel the India vs New Zealand Test series. Justice Lodha clarified on October 4 that BCCI was misinterpreting its order to the banks. The panel never stopped any money for staging matches.

The Supreme Court, on 6 October, gave an ultimatum to the BCCI to 'unconditionally' accept the Lodha reforms or it will pass an order. BCCI refuses to give any such undertaking asking for time till 17 October. The top court gave the BCCI time till December 3 to implement reforms recommended by the Lodha panel. 

The court had made it clear that continued defiance by state associations would witness their shares invested in fixed deposit accounts until they change their minds. The court had barred further disbursal of amounts, courtesy a resolution passed by in the Annual General Meeting held on November 9, 2015 or “any subsequent resolution” by the BCCI or its Working Committee, until the state associations submit their written undertakings to unconditionally comply with the Lodha reforms.

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