In this article, Nandini Murali pursuing Diploma in Entrepreneurship Administration and Business Laws from NUJS, Kolkata, discusses The organisational structure of BCCI and answers why is it registered in Tamil Nadu.
An introduction to BCCI
During the 18th century, when the British were trading with India and their only way in was through the sea, they brought along with their ships and goods, a culture of cricket into India. Although the year 1721 is of no apparent consequence to Indian History, it does have its contribution to what we are today. When the sailors of a British ship had parked at the port in Kutch for a number of days, they were seen to be playing a strange game.
When asked about it, the sailor names Downing said they were playing cricket and that was the first time in recorded history that Indians were introduced to the concept of cricket, this sport that rages throughout our entire nation today!
Let us look at a small timeline to study the progress and spread of cricket across our nation through the pages of history:
- 1751: The first ever match was played and recorded in India between the British army and the Indian settlers.
- 1787: The Marylebone Cricket Club was founded.
- 1792: The Calcutta Cricket Club (CCC) was founded.
Once the CCC was set up, numerous cricket clubs started making an entry throughout the country!
- 1848: The Oriental Cricket Club was set up by the Parsis. However, this club did not last for long and therefore, the same community formed the Young Zoroastrians Club in 1850.
- 1866: The Hindus started the Hindu Gymkhana and this was followed by a number of Gymkhana clubs like the Mumbai Gymkhana and the Parsi Gymkhana.
- In 1884: The first International Cricket match in India took place when the team from Sri Lanka came to Calcutta for the match.
So on and so forth various matches were played and clubs were founded.
- 1912: India sent an All Indian team to England for the very first time captained and financed by Maharaja of Patiala.
- Eventually, in November 1927, a meeting was conducted in Delhi regarding founding a board that will regulate cricket across all of India. The meeting was attended by delegates from across the country and finally in December 1928, the Board of Cricket Control India came into existence!
The country’s unexpected triumph in the World Cup in 1983 emboldened the BCCI to bid for the 1987 World Cup along with its Pakistani counterpart. It was the first time anyone had even thought of staging the competition outside England. The bid was upheld by the ICC, and the neighbours went on to stage a hugely successful event, the doubts raised by cynics notwithstanding. That one event showcased the organizational capabilities of the the cricket board.
The rest is history.
This report will focus on the registration, organisational structure and status quo of the BCCI, as well as controversies surrounding the same and, will do so in the light of landmark Supreme Court judgments.
Registration of BCCI and the controversy hence
BCCI has indeed come a long way since its formation in December 1928. Initially, Board of Cricket Control India functioned as an “unregistered association, and in 1940 it got registered under the Societies Registration Act, 1860. Later, with the enactment of the Tamil Nadu Societies Registration Act, 1975, it was registered once again as a private club consortium”.
Eventually, the Board of Cricket Control India now has a monopoly over every aspect of cricket and its regulation in India. The BCCI thus has an unfair advantage of being an unregulated monopoly and this has had an adverse effect on the Indian Cricket.
The organisational sphere of the Board of Cricket Control India as can be observed from all the scams and criminal complaints against the board. They are using their power to make money, while refusing to provide their services sufficiently.
As has been observed in the case Board of Cricket Control in India vs Cricket Association of Bihar and Ors. “Over the years, cricket in India has had a dark cloud cast over it with allegations of match-fixing and betting which have questioned the working of the BCCI as a regulatory body.”
This was not what anticipated when the Board of Cricket Control India was formed back in 1928.
It is true that Mumbai (then Bombay) is and always was the headquarters of BCCI. Why then is it registered in Tamil Nadu?
It so happens that while Bombay was headquarters, it was not the only office. There were an office each in Madras and Delhi as well. The BCCI initially worked unregistered. So, when Mr. Paramasivan was appointed as the fifth president of BCCI, he administered his duties from Madras and it so turned out that many of the functional aspects were rooted in Madras. Thus, under his reign and initiative, BCCI was registered in the Madras Societies Act during the 1930s. This continued to be the case even after his presidency. Nearly 40 years later, when the 17th President Mr. Chinnaswamy was appointed, the board was confirmed to continue to be registered in Tamil Nadu under the Tamil Nadu Societies Registration Act in the 1970s as it was simpler and easier as for the process of registration since they were already registered under Madras Societies Act as well as for purposes of tax exemptions as per provisions of the Act. This is why the BCCI was and remains registered in Tamil Nadu.
The Times, supporting Tamil Nadu took a stand that the BCCI is answerable to the Tamil Nadu Government since it’s registered office is so situated and that the Tamil Nadu government may interfere if there is a necessity. However, the BCCI remains as autonomous as always and refused to submit to such alleged jurisdiction.
STRUCTURE OF BCCI – Then and Now:
The Economic Times lays out that “Neither does the BCCI follow a structure like other sports bodies in the world, nor does it have a corporate structure. It does not follow laws of corporate governance either. The board functioned from the residence of whoever was the president, till about 2006. It used to be headquartered in a small one-and-a-half room office near to Mumbai’s Brabourne Stadium. Today, the BCCI is housed in the spanking stone-and-glass Cricket Centre at the Wankhede Stadium.”
BCCI is one of the most autonomous institutions in India and all of it’s decisions are taken by the members of the board itself with little or no interference from the sports ministry. The ICC considers the BCCI as it’s model and religiously follows the path that the BCCI decides to take. If the BCCI decides on a team, that will be the team India and represent India for all purposes as decided by the board. This is on a national level as the BCCI is not involved in state teams and matches.
The BCCI is, therefore, an autonomous body performing functions of national importance (considering that it governs cricket in India, cricket being India’s most watched and ardently followed sport as well as a most prominent front for India as far as the field of sports goes) and it is doing so as a private registered society outside the scope of governmental interference and no apparent transparency in its very structure!
Although it is registered in Tamil Nadu, it refuses to accept the jurisdiction of Tamil Nadu government. For that matter, it refuses to accept any jurisdiction.
The whole structure of the BCCI itself is destructive to its purpose. Through the years, BCCI has been involved in so many cases of corruption, match fixing, bribery, etc that the chastity of the sport is no more sacred. It is a mere profit making mechanism or so it would seem to any layman who looks into the facts and trend of the BCCI’s actions.
Thus, in the light of the nature of BCCI’s functions and the result of absolute autonomy of the board, the Supreme Court in its landmark judgment declared that BCCI would have to restructure its organisation and for this purpose, gave the responsibility to the Lodha committee to recommend for the same.
The Lodha committee, headed by Justice Lodha and members including Saurav Ganguly (ex- Indian team captain) and other cricket associated as well as judicially associated members, laid down it’s recommendations after a long haul with the BCCI.
The Supreme Court ordered that the BCCI should implement all such recommendations within 6 months and the state bodies do so within 1 year.
However, the BCCI absolutely disregarded the order of the Supreme Court and ignored the recommendations of the Lodha Committee, in fear of losing the autonomous power they held all along.
As a result of such defiance, the Supreme Court, in January 2017 had removed the President, Secretary and disqualified all board members from being so. It has since appointed a four member committee to take care of matters within BCCI, headed by Mr. Vinod Rai, former Comptroller and Auditor General.
The committee was asked to look into how much of the Lodha recommendations had been implemented and gradually nullify all negative effects the autonomous nature of BCCI has had on the sport in the past as well as to gain back public trust.
Thus, the BCCI is now in its phase of change and the judiciary has rightly taken the necessary steps to detox the BCCI and return its sanctity and mission to achieve the original purpose or facilitating and governing cricket in India.
 The Legal Status of BCCI as instrumentality of State Under Article 12 of the Indian Constitution,http://www.commonlii.org/in/journals/NALSARLawRw.2013/6.pdf Obtained from the NALSAR Law Review Journal, published in 2013
 CIVIL APPEAL NO.4235 OF 2014