The IPL imbroglio

While the IPL mishaps and the N. Srinivasan episode gave a negative impression of the BCCI, the Board genuinely needs to look inwards on the manner of its running of the day to day activities and also install a monitoring system that looks into the working of its affiliated units, a majority of whom receive upwards of Rs. 25 plus crore as subventions and grants every year, writes G. Viswanath.

The ugly side of IPL-related issues surrounding players and officials continued to haunt Indian cricket right through the year. Although a Public Interest Litigation in the Supreme Court provided clarity on several aspects of the case in question — betting and spotfixing — by way of parole discussions, observations and the Justice Mukul Mudgal Committee report, India’s cricketing stakeholders are anxiously waiting for a conclusion to the disturbing issues.

IPL-7, presided over by former India captain Sunil Gavaskar (nominated by the Supreme Court as BCCI-President for IPL), passed without a hitch in West Asia and India, other domestic tournaments have run on schedule and India has been able to meet its international engagements; but apparently there is a virtual breakdown in the BCCI administration with its elected President in 2013, N. Srinivasan, stepping aside and making way for the BCCI’s senior-most Vice-President, Shivlal Yadav, to discharge the duties of the President; all this took place as a consequence of discussions in the Supreme Court and to enable the Mudgal Committee to investigate further the betting and spot-fixing allegations without N. Srinivasan at the helm of affairs.

It was the complete lack of trust — following conflict of interest claims in the public domain — in the BCCI appointed committee of J. N. Patel, former Chief Justice of the Kolkata High Court, R. K. Raghavan, former Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Director and former India captain, Ravi Shastri, that brought the Mudgal Committee into the picture again after it had submitted its first report that categorically indicated that the case needed to be investigated further.

The second part of the investigation was confined to the 13 names — including that of some cricketers and N. Srinivasan — that the Mudgal Committee had given to the Supreme Court in a sealed cover. Senior IPS officer B. B. Misra, Deputy DG of the Narcotics Control Bureau, was given the role of the primary investigator. “We are of the considered opinion that the allegations against the 13 persons, including Mr. N. Srinivasan, mentioned in the report submitted in the sealed cover should be investigated into by the Justice Mudgal committee and the team of investigators because if a new probe committee is entrusted to inquire into the allegations, there is a likelihood of the allegations being leaked to the public and such leakage will damage the reputation of the 13 persons beyond repair,’’ wrote Justice Patnaik in his order.

The Justice Mudgal Committee’s final report cleared N. Srinivasan (referred to as individual 13) of any wrongdoing. The report said: “Individual 13: This individual is not involved with match-fixing activity. This individual was not found to be involved in scuttling the investigations into match-fixing. This individual along with four other BCCI officials was aware of the violation of the Players Code of Conduct by Individual 3, but no action was taken against Individual 3 by any of the aforesaid officials who were aware of this infraction.’’

The report submitted to the Supreme Court almost confirmed that Gurunath Meiyappan acted as an official of the Chennai Super Kings and that he was guilty of placing bets. The report also stated that the IPL Chief Operating Officer Sundar Raman was in touch with a contact of a bookie. While hearings have taken place on the basis of findings in the Mudgal Committee report, the Supreme Court has taken up the ‘conflict of interest’ matter concerning N. Srinivasan with regard to his being the office-bearer of the BCCI and owner of Chennai Super Kings. It’s now known that he had the full approval of the BCCI for India Cements to bid for the Chennai franchise, but the Supreme Court has indicated in an almost cut and dried manner that “it’s not cricket.’’ The Court also questioned the BCCI about the propriety of its decision to amend a particular by-law that originally prevented an administrator benefitting from the BCCI’s commercial interests.

Sunil Gavaskar... interim President of BCCI for the IPL.-PTI

The Supreme Court has reserved its order after hearing all the cases by December 17, 2014. Its order is awaited after the Christmas vacation, well before the BCCI’s AGM (many-times postponed) on January 31, 2015. The general feeling is that the Court will name a committee to study the working of the BCCI in totality. But of more interest would be whether N. Srinivasan is allowed to contest the elections under the amended by-laws. His lawyer Kapil Sibal even told the court that his client could not be prevented from fighting the election as it would harm his integrity and reputation.

While the IPL mishaps and the N. Srinivasan episode gave a negative impression of the BCCI, the Board genuinely needs to look inwards on the manner of its running of the day to day activities and also install a monitoring system that looks into the working of its affiliated units, a majority of whom receive upwards of Rs. 25 plus crore as subventions and grants every year. There was the bizarre instance of the Rajasthan Cricket Association, which at one meeting supported a life-ban on Lalit Modi, and a few months afterwards elected him as the RCA President, citing the Rajasthan Sports Act and violating the BCCI rules.

The Rajasthan High Court has asked the State Sports Ministry to run cricket in the State, a ruling that helped the cricketers to take part in the BCCI run tournaments for juniors, seniors and women.