The Supreme Court-appointed RM Lodha Panel has asked the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to accept its recommendations before awarding the media rights for the future editions of the Indian Premier League (IPL).
In effect, the IPL media rights contracts, which were to be announced on Tuesday, have been postponed. The rights include broadcast, mobile and internet contracts.
The Lodha committee sought clarity from BCCI about the duration of the media 'Rights Period', making it amply clear that no independent auditor will be appointed before Tuesday.
Eighteen companies, including social networking giants like Facebook and Twitter, had bought the tender documents. BCCI had appointed M/S Deloitte to supervise the submission, opening and assessment of the bids.
Sony are the current host broadcasters of the IPL and their contract with the BCCI expires after next year. The board is expected to award the rights for the next 10 years.
BCCI secretary Ajay Shirke had written a letter to the panel seeking directives as to whether an independent auditor as directed by the Supreme Court will be appointed before the bidding process begins.
In a letter written to Ajay Shirke, panel secretary Gopal Shankarnarayan wrote: "Before the Committee proceeds to issue any directions, it would need to satisfy itself that the BCCI administration is willing to comply with the Order of the Hon'ble Supreme Court dated 21.10.2016.
"As you can understand, this would be necessary in view of the BCCI's stand concerning the earlier order of 18.7.2016. In this regard, the Committee requires a letter of compliance from the President BCCI duly undertaking on behalf of the BCCI to unreservedly comply with the Order of the Hon’ble Supreme Court dated 21.10.2016."
Shankarnarayan then asked for a few clarifications based on Shirke's letter.
"In your letter dated 21.10.2016, the first paragraph reads as follows: 1) The BCCI has already declared the process of a global tender for the IPL rights, where the previous Ten-year rights contract ended with the end of IPL season May 2016, as it was mandated to do so by the expiring contract."
The panel secretary then concluded by asking two specific questions.
"a. When did the previous Ten-year rights period come to an end? b. When does the next Ten-year rights period commence?"
The Supreme Court had earlier directed the Anurag Thakur-led board to appoint an independent auditor to oversee tender and other processes before awarding the rights.
Other recommendations mentioned that there should be specific instructions on whether BCCI should defer or cancel the opening of the tender. The board also wanted a directive on whether they could issue clarifications to the potential bidders if they have any questions in their mind.
The three-member Lodha panel comprises former Chief Justice of India Rajendra Mal Lodha, Justice Ashok Bhan and Justice RV Raveendran. The panel was supposed to meet on October 21 but that was later cancelled.
In a late development, BCCI president Anurag Thakur replied to the panel's query, informing that the compliance report by him and secretary Ajay Shirke will be filed by November 5 and it's their "consistent endeavour of the BCCI office-bearers to ensure implementations of the recommendations by the committee".
Regarding implementation of the reforms, Thakur stated in his letter, "However for the benefit of the Committee it may be noted that President and Secretary of BCCI had called a Special General Body Meeting of the BCCI on 30.09.2016 and 1.10.2016 for adoption of recommendation by the committee and adoption of Memorandum and Articles as proposed by the Committee.
"However the requisite percentage majority mandated under the Tamil Nadu Societies Act, 1975 of members present and voting could not be achieved for adoption of Memorandum and Articles as proposed by the Committee despite the secretary of the BCCI proposing the motion and president of BCCI seconding the motion. It may be noted that the BCCI President and Secretary do not have vote or decision making power in such meetings."
"The BCCI office bearers have also assured the Hon'ble Supreme Court that they would take necessary steps in the meanwhile in order to establish their bona fides," Thakur further stated.
(With inputs from PTI and Rica Roy)