The Supreme Court rapped
suspended BCCI chief N Srinivasan
on Monday over conflict of interest for owning an IPL team while remaining at the helm of the cricket establishment and warned the sports body against “killing the game”.
The court’s stinging observations come as a blow for Srinivasan who is seeking reinstatement as India’s top cricket administrator after a probe panel said he was “not involved with match fixing activity” and “not found to be involved in scuttling the investigations into match fixing”.
“You (Srinivasan) are only assuming that you have been given a clean chit. Don’t go by the Mudgal panel conclusion alone. The question is whether you should at all be serving the BCCI,” the bench of justices TS Thakur and FMI Kalifullah said. “Conflict of interest is a serious issue. IPL seems to be a mutually cooperative benefit society between BCCI and IPL teams.”
The top court had asked Srinivasan to step aside from his position till the justice Mukul Mudgal panel completed its probe into the match-fixing and betting scandal during the Indian Premier League cricket carnival’s sixth edition.
Srinivasan’s son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan, identified by the inquiry committee as a team principal for the Chennai Super Kings (CSK) franchise, is accused of betting on IPL games.
CSK, led by India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, is owned by the India Cements company of which Srinivasan is the managing director and has won the seven-year-old IPL tournament twice.
The court’s comments came after it perused the replies filed by Srinivasan, IPL chief operating officer Sundar Raman, Meiyappan and co-owner of the Rajasthan Royals franchise Raj Kundra – all indicted by the Mudgal panel. The hearing will resume on Tuesday.
The league has been mired in controversy since May last year when fast bowler S Sreesanth and two of his teammates from the Rajasthan Royals were arrested by Delhi Police on charges of spot fixing, or influencing the outcomes of parts of a match in exchange for money.
Srinivasan, currently the chairman of the International Cricket Council (ICC), had called Meiyappan a “cricket enthusiast” who was not a stakeholder in the team.
The panel said Srinivasan and other IPL officials were involved in a “cover up” of misdeeds of an unnamed player who violated the players’ code of conduct.
Moments after the Supreme Court’s observations, former IPL chairman Lalit Modi who was banned for life by the BCCI in September last year, called for both Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals to be banned.
“CSK and RR must be cancelled. If owners indulge in betting activity the rule book must be thrown at them. Raman should be locked up too,” he tweeted.
The BCCI argued in the top court that the body had its own rules and any future action should be taken by it. It also defended Srinivasan, contending that the cricketer – referred to as individual number three in the report– committed a wrong not related to the IPL
The court appeared disinclined to grant the cricket body’s request. “You yourself need to be above suspicion, which you are not. If you allow these things to happen, then you are killing the game of cricket,” the judges said. “What promotes the game is that it is played in true spirit of gentleman’s game.”