Court Keeps Srinivasan Out of BCCI!
The Supreme Court has turned down N Srinivasan’s reinstatement request, and has revealed that he is one of the 13 named in the sealed envelope submitted to it by the Justice Mudgal committee. In response to the BCCI counsel CA Sundaram’s argument that the court was responding only to prima facie evidence and not secondary evidence, Justice AK Patnaik for the first time revealed details about the sealed envelope. He said that there were 13 names of “very important personalities in cricket” in the sealed envelope, with Srinivasan’s name being the 13th. There were 12 allegations against Srinivasan with annexures to each of them. “It seems that Mr Srinivasan has not taken the allegations seriously,” he said.
Patnaik said Srinivasan “could not come back as BCCI president as long as the probe is on.” A day before the court hearing on Wednesday, Srinivasan had filed an affidavit, asking the court to reconsider its interim order that removed him as the BCCI president while the probe into the alleged corruption in the IPL was on. The court, though, reiterated that a fair probe would not be possible with him discharging any duties inside the BCCI.
It further asked the BCCI to come back to the next hearing, on April 22, with constructive corrective measures with regard to how it can ensure a free and fair probe into the IPL corruption scandal. The measures could involve a Special Investigation Team (SIT) probe or selecting its own other independent investigators, but it stipulated that the probe had to be conducted by a credible team. If the BCCI was to be given the power to investigate the matter, it had to be done without prejudice and the mandatory condition that “Srinivasan cannot come back.”
The court said that “we cannot close our eyes,” but did not impose an independent probe in the matter. “We are not considering a SIT because we don’t want the CBI or the police or the media to throw mud on cricketers,” Patnaik said. “Reputations of cricketers and great names are at stake. What happens to the reputation of the players who are representing the country and Indian cricketers of the future. Cricket has to be clean but institutional autonomy has to be maintained.”
There was some relief for the BCCI. Sundar Raman, the chief operating officer (COO) of the IPL, whose future was to be decided by acting BCCI president Sunil Gavaskar, was allowed to continue in his role. Gavaskar stated that he was not in a position to take a decision on Sundar as he knew him in a personal capacity and was unaware of the details of the information that investigating agencies had against Sundar.
The hearing on April 22 will also look into several matters related to the many ramifications of the IPL corruption scandal. Patnaik said the court will look into the amended clause in the BCCI constitution that allowed Srinivasan to own a team in the IPL as well as him being sent as a board nominee to ICC meetings. There is also a possibility that G Sampath Kumar, the Chennai police officer whose deposition formed part of the Mudgal committee’s report, will be asked to depose before the court on April 22. The details of his deposition were found in Mudgal committee member Nilay Dutta’s additional comments to the main report. Dutta is a member of the Assam Cricket Association. Deccan Chargers may also be introduced as part of the arbitration pertaining to the matter of their resurrection.
The court will also appoint an amicus curae, a lawyer who is not part of the case, to report to them about the existence or otherwise of transcripts and recordings of the depositions to the Mudgal committee. So far it is understood that the court has been provided with minutes of the 52 interviews conducted by the panel in the course of its investigation. The BCCI’s counsel had previously contested the Mudgal committee’s findings and had requested for the tapes the findings were based on.
The case dates back to June 2013 when the Cricket Association of Bihar secretary Aditya Verma raised charges of conflict of interest in the formation of BCCI’s two-member inquiry panel into the IPL corruption issue. A Bombay High Court ruling later termed the probe panel “illegal”. The BCCI and the CAB filed petitions in the Supreme Court against this order, with the CAB contending that the Bombay High Court could have suggested a fresh mechanism to look into the corruption allegations.
The Supreme Court then appointed a three-member committee, headed by former High Court judge Mukul Mudgal and comprising additional solicitor general L Nageswara Rao and Dutta, in October 2013, to conduct an independent inquiry into the allegations of corruption against Srinivasan’s son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan, India Cements, and Rajasthan Royals team owner Jaipur IPL Cricket Private Ltd, as well as with the larger mandate of allegations around betting and spot-fixing in IPL matches and the involvement of players. The committee had submitted its findings to the court on February 10.