BCCI president-in-exile N Srinivasan seems set to return to the helm of affairs (AFP)
No surprises here. N Srinivasan looks set to return as the Indian cricket chief after a BCCI-appointed probe panel cleared his team Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals of spot-fixing charges that rocked the T20 tournament this year.
Raj Kundra, one of the co-owners of Rajasthan Royals, whose three players were arrested by the Delhi Police on the charges of spot-fixing in the middle of the tournament on May 16, too, is in the clear.
"There is no evidence of any wrongdoing found by the judges against Raj Kundra, India Cements and Rajasthan Royals," Board of Control for Cricket in India vice-president Niranjan Shah said on Sunday.
Former high court judges T Jayaram Chouta and R Balasubramanian, who sent in their report on Sunday morning, were tasked with looking into the roles of Srinivasan's son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan, Rajasthan Royals and its co-owner Raj Kundra in the scandal.
Though there was no mention of Meiyappan, PTI quoted a source as saying that the panel had cleared Srinivasan's son-in-law of spot-fixing charge but he could be involved in betting.
The verdict, if ratified by the IPL governing council in New Delhi on August 2, will pave the way for Srinivasan's return, who "stepped aside" after Meiyappan was arrested on May 24 on charges of gambling and cheating by the Mumbai Police. Meiyappan is now out on bail.
But, the verdict is likely to cause some confusion as the Delhi and Mumbai police cases are still open. And, BCCI's anti-corruption unit chief Ravi Sawani is yet to complete his questioning of the tainted players S Sreesanth, Ajit Chandila and Ankeet Chavan as Chandila is still in jail.
At a press conference, BCCI interim president Jagmohan Dalmiya conceded that the path has been cleared for the return of Srinivasan, who is also the vice-president and managing director of India Cements. It was for Srinivasan to decide if he wanted to attend the August 2 meeting, he said.
Dalmiya promised that there will be no cover-up in the probe into the alleged conflict of interests issue over Mahendra Singh Dhoni holding stakes in a sports management firm that manages him and several other Indian cricketers.
"I had said nothing will be swept under the carpet, even if it is Dhoni," Dalmiya said after the Board's Working committee meeting in Kolkata on Sunday.
The skipper came under sharp attack from many former cricketers for his alleged conflict of interest for having stakes in the sports management company and being the captain of the national side at the same time.
Dalmiya said the board had changed its "mode of working" as far as keeping a check on players' conflict of interests was concerned.
The spot-fixing scandal, which made headlines initially, seems to be on a sticky wicket. The Delhi Police, who will name Dawood Ibrahim as the main accused when they file charge sheet on Monday, have their job cut out in linking the scandal to organised crime.
"There is no reason for believing that the accused are guilty under the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act at this stage," additional sessions judge Vinay Kumar Khanna said while giving bail to two players on June 10. The Mumbai crime branch is expected to file charge sheet in the betting case soon.
About the spot-fixing
The T20 spot-fixing scandal broke out when India pacer S Sreesanth, along with two other Rajasthan Royals players Ajit Chandila and Ankeet Chavan and 11 bookies, was arrested for alleged spot-fixing in the tournament.
The contracts of the tainted players were terminated by their franchise, which also lodged a criminal complaint against them.
It snowballed into a crisis for the BCCI when Board President N Srinivasan's son-in-law and Chennai Super Kings Team Principal Meiyappan was arrested on charges of betting on May 26.
A internal probe panel, originally comprising former judges Chouta, Balasubramanian and the then BCCI Secretary Sanjay Jagdale, was constituted on May 28 to investigate the allegations against Meiyappan, who maintained his innocence after getting bail.
Srinivasan, who owns the CSK franchise, remained defiant through the turmoil and refused to resign but had to step aside as BCCI President after a stormy emergent Board meeting on June 2 where Dalmiya took charge of an interim arrangement to run the Board's affairs pending the inquiry.
The upheaval led to the resignations of Board Secretary Sanjay Jagdale and Treasurer Ajay Shirke, who asked for Srinivasan's resignation on moral grounds.