The Supreme Court order on the Indian Premier League (IPL) spot-fixing scandal is an indictment of sidelined cricket board president, N Srinivasan, for his conflict of interest in running the wealthy sports body. The court in its 138-page judgement delivered on Thursday struck down the convenient amendment made in the Board of Control For Cricket In India’s constitution before the IPL launch, relaxing norms for office-bearers to have commercial interests in the board’s events. This enabled Mr Srinivasan to own Chennai Super Kings (CSK).
His hopes of seeking re-election to the body he has run with an iron hand hangs in the balance as the court made it clear that office-bearers cannot contest elections as long as they have commercial interests. This directive would bar Mr Srinivasan unless he is able to sever all ties with CSK immediately, as the court has directed the board to hold its AGM in six weeks. It is unlikely that Mr Srinivasan would give up an opportunity to retain control of the BCCI, but the coming days should provide clarity whether he is able to do that and how the board’s internal politics plays out. All focus was on Mr Srinivasan since the court reserved its order in December. The apex court order seems more an attempt at cleaning up the mess than handing out exemplary punishments. The court clearing him of the cover-up in the scandal though would be consolation for Mr Srinivasan.
The court has been more decisive in pronouncing both CSK official and Mr Srinivasan’s son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan as well as Rajasthan Royals co-owner Raj Kundra guilty of betting. If there is strong enough evidence that team officials have violated rules, there is provision in the IPL to even terminate the teams. This order brings some closure to a case that has dragged on for a year and a half. However, the apex court is still to take up the names of players that were submitted to it as part of the list given in a sealed envelope by the Justice Mukul Mudgal Committee while submitting its probe report.
It remains to be seen whether the BCCI accepts this as a final opportunity to bring in reforms in the way it functions. If board officials see this merely as an opportunity to re-distribute power, it may not lead to much. Its commercial clout has meant there is little incentive for a purge in the BCCI. Developments in the coming days and weeks, leading up to the BCCI annual meeting and beyond, will provide a clearer picture.