Supreme Court, while examining the Justice Mukul Mudgal report on corruption in IPL 2013, raised questions of conflict of interest on N. Srinivasan, putting in doubt the suspended cricket administrator’s re-election as BCCI president.
by Soumitra Bose, NDTV
New Delhi: In a massive setback for N. Srinivasan, the Supreme Court has slammed the suspended BCCI president for conflict of interest in Indian cricket administration. During a hearing of the Indian Premier League scam probe report on Monday afternoon, the two-member special Bench said: “You can’t make a distinction between BCCI and IPL. IPL a is a by-product of BCCI.” Srinivasan’s company India Cements owns IPL franchise Chennai Super Kings and his son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan has been indicted for betting. Meiyappan was a team official ever since IPL started in 2008. (The IPL spot-fixing and betting saga: A timeline)
The top court said: “The ownership of team raises conflict of interest. President of BCCI has to run the show but you have a team which raises questions and it can’t be wished away”. The BCCI lawyers argued that there is no conflict of interest because Bombay High Court had dismissed this issue. However, Srinivasan is seeking a nod from the Supreme Court to seek re-election as BCCI president. The hearing will resume on Tuesday afternoon. (Sachin Tendulkar tight-lipped over Mudgal report)
On Srinivasan’s chances of getting another term as BCCI boss, the judges said: “One of the employees (Gurunath Meiyappan) of your team was involved in betting. You have to reply because it will affect the position and the dignity of BCCI president position.” The judges added: “The benefit of doubt should go to the game and not an individual.”
The court’s mood is very clear. Although, conflict of interest was not directly in the ambit of Mudgal’s probe, the Supreme Court judges hinted a person who owns an IPL franchise against whom there are issues of corruption, cannot ethically be the leader of BCCI. “You are assuming a clean chit,” the judges told Srinivasan.
Srinivasan has been suspended as BCCI president by the Supreme Court till investigations into corruption in IPL were over. His son-in-law Meiyappan, identified as a team principal by the inquiry panel headed by former judge Justice Mukul Mudgal, has been indicted for betting. Chennai Super Kings, led by India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, are two-time IPL champions. Srinivasan had called Meiyappan a “cricket enthusiast” who was not a stake-holder in Chennai Super Kings.
The judges said: “Some people who are in BCCI now own a team. Now it has become a mutual benefit society.” They added: “If people know that a game is fixed who will visit the stadium? In India, cricket is like a religion. Recognition comes when one lakh people in Eden Gardens applaud.”
ICC’s first chairman, Srinivasan is seeking a second term as Board president. The BCCI AGM is scheduled on December 17. The probe report said Srinivasan, is “not involved with match fixing activity” and “not found to be involved in scuttling the investigations into match fixing”. However, the report charged him and other IPL officials of “cover up” of misdeeds of an unnamed player who violated Players Code of Conduct. The report called these “misdemeanours.”
(With inputs from A. Vaidyanathan)