The Supreme Court has asked N. Srinivasan to step down as BCCI president to ensure a fair probe of the Indian Premier League fixing and betting scandal. Srinivasan’s son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan, who was a team official of Chennai Super Kings, has been indicted by a Supreme Court appointed inquiry committee of betting and sharing team information.
“In our opinion, Srinivasan has to step down for a fair investigation into the allegation of betting,” said Justice A.K. Patnaik in the course of the hearing the Justice Mukul Mudgal report that went into the allegations of betting and spot fixing in the IPL. “It’s nauseating that N. Srinivasan continued as BCCI chief, he should go if cricket has to be cleaned,” the court said. Meanwhile, Srinivasan has refused to comment on the issue, saying he will “study the court observations”. The case will come up for hearing again on March 27.
As senior counsel C.A. Sundaram sought to defend BCCI, Justice Patnaik said: “We will show the papers. You see it and tell us as a counsel about your opinion and not as a paid counsel for Srinivasan.”
At one stage, comparing the two reports – one by an earlier inquiry committee comprising two retired judges of the Madras High Court and the other by Justice Mudgal appointed by the apex court, Justice Patnaik asked: “Can we say that the probe report was managed and if we say so, then what will be the consequences.” The apex court added: “Why is Srinivasan sticking to his chair? If you don’t step down, then we will pass the order.”
The Mudgal committee submitted two reports to the Supreme Court on February 10. The first, signed by retired judge Justice Mudgal and Additional Solicitor General of India L. Nageswara Rao, asked the court to “decide the further course of action” because the probe committee did not have the power to impose punishment. Another supplementary report, signed by Nilay Dutta, a vice-president of Assam Cricket Association and a member of the IPL Governing Council, said: “This should not be misinterpreted to mean that the report suggests that the Hon’ble Court would decide on the punishment or penalty to be imposed.”
The BCCI, which is backing Dutta’s comments, wanted the Supreme Court to let it start fresh disciplinary proceedings against Gurunath and Chennai Super Kings under the IPL franchise rules. The Supreme Court is not willing to do and has instead asked Srinivasan to step down.
Last July, a two-member BCCI-appointed panel comprising a pair of retired judges (T Jayaram Chouta and R Balasubramanian) had found “no evidence of any wrongdoing” on the part of Gurunath and Rajasthan royals co-owner Raj Kundra. However, the Mudgal panel pointed out that the question of whether or not Gurunath had been involved in match-fixing and spot-fixing “not been investigated thoroughly” by the anti-corruption units of the ICC and the BCCI or the Crime Branch Criminal Investigation Department of the Chennai police, “even though some information was available for such an investigation to be conducted.”