Conflict of interest? Gavaskar, Srikanth, Shastri under SC lens

  • Bhadra Sinha, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Dec 18, 2014 22:01 IST

The Board Of Control For Cricket In India (BCCI) submitted on Wednesday a list of individuals with both commercial interests in IPL and ties to the board to the Supreme Court, which is looking into the issue of conflict of interest — arising out of the controversy surrounding the board’s president-in-exile and Chennai Super Kings (CSK) owner N Srinivasan.

The list included the names of some of the greats of the game — Sunil Gavaskar, K Srikanth, Sourav Ganguly, Ravi Shastri and Anil Kumble, among others.

Expressing reservations on Srikanth’s dual role as BCCI’s selection committee chairman and mentor of Hyderabad Sunrisers, a bench headed by justice TS Thakur said, “The position you have taken is that in IPL there are some commercial interests. But if it is a question of selection of the national team, this gentleman who is a selector can be accused of picking someone from his own team.”

The list was submitted after the court expanded the scope of a petition seeking to disenfranchise CSK and Rajasthan Royals — for the alleged involvement of their team owners in spot-fixing — to delve into the subject of conflict of interest and amendment of BCCI’s rule 6.2.4. that permits board members to hold commercial interests in the cash-rich IPL.

If the court strikes down the rule, Srinivasan’s future as BCCI chief could be in jeopardy and his company, India Cements, may have to give up the IPL franchise.

When BCCI counsel CA Sundaram argued that the court could only go into the matter if there was a specific case of conflict of interest, the bench hit back, “If he has a commercial interest… and is also selector for the national team, if the rule was un-amended, he can’t be selector. Tell us what is the grave compulsion and consequence if he is disabled from the position where there is no conflict of interest.”

To this, Sundaram said some of the former players would lose out on being commentators of the game or mentors to teams.

“Ganguly is an expert besides being a mentor. They get the benefit of the profession and people get some expert comments,” he said.

But the court wasn’t convinced: “If a player is playing and if a commentator gives a comment on how a ball is bowled, is it commercial interest?”

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Srinivasan, said a person can’t be accused of having a conflict of interest simply because he happens to be an administrator and part of a company that owns a team simultaneously. Pointing out that conflict of interest cannot be a “matter of policy”, he said, “There is hardly a place where conflict of interest is not there. It happens in the judiciary also.”

“Match-fixing and betting have nothing to do with rule 6.2.4. Fixing and betting took place in the 90s when this rule was not there,” he added.

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