The Mudgal Committee, which has conducted a probe into spot-fixing and betting charges in IPL 2013, has exonerated world cricket chief Narayanaswami Srinivasan, clearing the way for his comeback as head of the sport in India.
Srinivasan, considered the most powerful man in world cricket, was among top officials probed by a Supreme Court-appointed panel looking into scandals in the cash-rich Indian Premier League (IPL).
"This individual was not involved in match-fixing activities. This individual was not involved in scuttling investigations into match-fixing," the panel's report said.The three-member committee, in its report to the Supreme Court, however, indicted the BCCI president-in-exile for not taking action against a cricketer, who it did not name, for violating Players Code of Conduct despite being aware of it.
N Srinivasan comes out of Rajarajeswari temple in Kannur district in Kerala on Monday. (K Sasi/ HT photo)
But, in findings that could leave IPL teams Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and Rajasthan Royals (RR) vulnerable, the report has indicted Gurunath Meiyappan and Raj Kundra for betting, and confirmed their role in their teams.
It confirmed Meiyappan was a team official (team principal) of CSK, while RR's co-owner Kundra's "infractions violated BCCI/IPL Anti Corruption Code".
The panel, headed by former judge Mukul Mudgal, had submitted its findings in a sealed envelope to the top court earlier this month but they were only released on Monday.
The report was expected to pave the way for Srinivasan to resume his position as head of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), which was scheduled to hold elections later this month.
The court had barred Srinivasan from carrying out his duties as BCCI president until it delivered its final verdict, although it did not stop him from heading the International Cricket Council (ICC). He was appointed chairman of the world body in June.
Meiyappan was cleared of match-fixing but the panel was "unanimous" that he had been involved in betting activities during the glitzy, scandal-tainted Twenty20 tournament.
Mired in controversy
Gambling is mostly illegal in India, but betting on cricket matches thrives through networks of underground bookies.
The CSK are owned by India Cements, whose managing director is Srinivasan, while the team is captained by India skipper Mahendra Dhoni.
The sixth IPL season last year was mired in controversy after police launched legal proceedings against several IPL officials and cricketers, including former Test fast bowler Shanthakumaran Sreesanth, for illegal betting and spot-fixing.
The panel also found that IPL chief operating officer Sundar Raman knew a bookmaker's associate and "contacted him eight times in one season", according to its report released on Monday.
"Sundar Raman admitted knowing the contact of the bookie, however (he) claimed to be unaware of his connection with betting activities," the report said.
There was also "material on record to indicate" that Raj Kundra, owner of the Rajasthan Royals IPL franchise, placed bets.
"The individual was in touch with bookies and he had violated the anti-corruption code," the report concluded.
Aditya Verma of the Cricket Association of Bihar, which had petitioned the court for Srinivasan's removal, maintained despite Monday's report that he should be sacked and said the affair had tarnished the organisation.
The IPL, which began in 2008, features the world's top players signed up for huge fees by companies and high-profile individuals in a mix of sport and entertainment.
With its massive TV audiences, India generates almost 70% of the game's revenues and several Test nations are heavily dependent on its largesse.
BCCI working committee meet tomorrow
The all-powerful working committee of the BCCI will, meanwhile, meet in Chennai Tuesday to discuss the Mudgal Committe report and decide on a new date for its upcoming Annual General Meeting.
Srinivasan will attend the meeting in capacity of being the president of Tamil Nadu Cricket Association (TNCA).
"There is not much that's going to happen tomorrow (Tuesday) at the WC meeting. Most of the members who will be attending the meeting are Srinivasan loyalists. Also with Mudgal Committee finding that he was not involved in fixing, the decks should be cleared for him contesting for the presidential post," a senior BCCI official and working committee member told PTI today.
However, the official announcement will only come after the next Supreme Court hearing on November 24.
In an immediate fallout of the Mudgal report being taken up by the court last Friday, the BCCI had postponed its November 20 annual general meeting - during which Srinivasan was expected to contest elections for the president's post - by another four weeks.
Srinivasan in Kerala temple
On a day that brought some good news to him, Srinivasan worshipped at the famous Rajarajaeswara Temple at Taliparamba in Kannur district in Kerala.
Srinivasan who arrived at the temple in the morning offered the 'ponninkudam', a major offering to the presiding diety Lord Siva.
According to temple officials, Srinivasan who was accompanied by some senior officials of India Cements, spent about 30 minutes in the ancient temple.
Famous personalities who have visited the temple in the past include former Tamil Nadu chief minister Jayalalithaa and BJP leader and former Karnataka chief minister BS Yeddyurappa.
(with PTI and AFP inputs)