New Delhi: A three-member panel appointed by India's top court on Monday recommended legalising cricket betting in the country, while suggesting structural changes to the powerful Indian board (BCCI) to ensure more transparency in its operation.
In a country where legal gambling is confined to horse-racing, illegal betting syndicates continue to thrive and a 2013 betting scandal led to two-year bans on two franchises in the Indian Premier League (IPL) last year.
"We have suggested to the legislature for legalising betting..." panel chairman RM Lodha told reporters, adding the BCCI should have an "in-built mechanism" to ensure players and administrators don't bet on matches.
"To ensure they don't involve in betting, they have to disclose their assets to the BCCI. It can only be done through betting houses which will have to take licences. Any misconduct by them will result in cancellation of those licences."
On Lodha committee's recommendations Rajasthan and Chennai were kicked out of the IPL for two seasons, while life bans were handed out to two key officials for their involvement in illegal betting.
Since that scandal, the BCCI has spent considerable time defending itself in the top court which also tasked the panel to look into the functioning of the world's richest cricket board.
Over the last 12 months, former chief justice of India Lodha and two of his colleagues interacted with 74 individuals over 35 sittings before submitting their report, which among other things recommends age and tenure restrictions for top officials, on Monday.
The panel recommended cooling off period between successive terms for top officials, suggested ministers and government servants cannot occupy BCCI posts and wants professionals under a chief executive officer to run the board's day-to-day activity.
In other recommendations, all of which would be binding on the board if the Supreme Court deems so, the panel wanted the BCCI to be brought under the Right to Information Act which would allow citizens to access information held by the board.
Lodha acknowledged how BCCI has pumped money back into the game to improve infrastructure and successfully hosted international tournaments but had no doubt that there was room for improvement.
"We found that there are ailments which need cure but by providing right dose, so that the good bacteria in the body is not lost.
"The report that we have handed over to the court... is not to restrict or limit the good work that has been done and is being pursued by the BCCI but to remove the ailing parts..." he added.
Since Shashank Manohar returned for a second stint as its president in October, BCCI has been striving to shed its familiar image of being a rich but non-transparent organisation run by politicians and industrialists with conflicting interests.
Manohar, also the current International Cricket Council chairman, has gone hard after the vexed issue of conflict of interests and has made sure any expenditure above Rs2.5 million ($37,574.21) is put up on the board's website.