The Supreme Court directing the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) president, N Srinivasan, to step down to allow a free and fair investigation into the spot-fixing scandal is a damning indictment of the man who is seen to have arrogated all powers vested in India’s premier sports institution, leading to the current mess. The apex court could not have been harsher or clearer in its view of the state of affairs in the BCCI, castigating Mr Srinivasan for hanging on to his position despite mounting charges of corruption after the Indian Premier League (IPL) corruption scandal erupted, engulfing players, owners and senior team officials. The court has described Mr Srinivasan’s refusal to budge from his post as “nauseating”, which sums it all up.
The court’s warning that it will pass an order if Mr Srinivasan does not resign in the next two days — before its next hearing — to take the investigations following the damaging report of the Mudgal committee to its logical conclusion leaves Mr Srinivasan and the BCCI with little choice. That the court felt issues raised in a sealed envelope submitted by one of the three members of that panel need to be thoroughly probed shows how deep the rot has set in, and the manner in which the BCCI’s top leadership has let down the game and its stakeholders, especially the millions of fans. It now remains to be seen how Mr Srinivasan, who had only agreed to ‘step aside’ after his son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan, the face of the Chennai Super Kings (CSK), was charged with illegal betting by the Mumbai Police, responds to the court’s order. However, the Mudgal panel report leaves little room for manoeuvring as it has held that Mr Meiyappan’s role as a CSK official and his involvement in betting have been proved. Mr Srinivasan already faces serious conflict of interest charges as well.
The harsh spotlight on him has led to the diminishing credibility of three of the BCCI’s biggest institutions — the national selection committee, the IPL and the role of the national captain. That is because of the Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni also leading CSK, which Mr Srinivasan’s company owns. And Mr Dhoni also holds a senior position in the company. That the BCCI thought it fit to go ahead with a fresh edition of the IPL without achieving closure in the spot-fixing case shows scant disregard for principles and a lack of interest in tackling the biggest menace in global cricket. Whatever changes the SC’s directive brings to the power equations within the Board, it presents the BCCI an opportunity to clean up all aspects of its governance. Will it grab the opportunity is the big question.