The three-member probe panel, headed by Justice Mukul Mudgal to investigate spot-fixing in the IPL, on Monday indicted Gurunath Meiyappan of relaying information to illegal bookmakers.
Despite vehement denials by representatives of India Cements (CSK owners), BCCI president N Srinivasan and India skipper MS Dhoni that Meiyappan was just a cricket enthusiast and not attached to the team, the panel was not convinced and did its own investigation.
Contradicting the BCCI president and the India skipper, the report, which was submitted before the Supreme Court, established that Meiyappan, son-in-law of Srinivasan, was indeed an official in the CSK.
Justice Mudgal also stated in his report how the panel nailed Meiyappan’s culpability. The panel members searched through the records of Delhi and Mumbai Police and invited various stakeholders — BCCI officials, ex-board presidents, players, investigating agencies and cricket correspondents — to depose before them.
It found that “Meiyappan would be with the team during practice sessions, team meetings, at the auction table, in the dugout, at IPL owners’ meet…travelled with the team, participated in the owners’ workshop representing himself to be the owner of CSK and held out to the world at large as the team principal/ team owner of CSK”.
The report further said: “The Mumbai Police had shown us business cards and letterheads, wherein Meiyappan had claimed to be the team owner/principal.”
The panel also found IPL CEO Sundar Raman’s replies to its queries ambiguous. Raman had told the committee that the term “owner” was “loosely used and has no implication while identifying an owner under the franchise agreement. The status of an ultimate owner is not clear, but may be read as per the franchise agreement,” he said, however, admitting that the IPL Governing Council had not made any effort to determine who the ultimate owners of the franchises were.
The report further said that Meiyappan was “accredited (though implicit at times) by the franchise owner to participate and be present when various crucial decisions were taken in relation to CSK. One such example of authorisation is, the fact that India Cements themselves forwarded accreditation requests for Meiyappan every year for the last 6 seasons, requesting for grant of accreditation access cards in the name of Meiyappan under different nomenclatures (Owner and Management).”
To fortify its point, the panel attached a letter from the BCCI dated February 3 last year detailing the accreditation sought by CSK. It clearly shows Meiyappan as director. “This, in our view, demonstrates beyond doubt that at least in 2011 in a representation made by CSK for accreditation to BCCI, Meiyappan was described as a director. This document also seeks all-area access to Meiyappan. A gold pass and a management blue pass have also been sought for Meiyappan. The above documents further strengthen our conclusion that Meiyappan was part of CSK.
Had easy access
“The committee is of the firm belief that Meiyappan had knowledge of or was in position to easily access sensitive team information, team strategies, knowledge about match conditions, etc., which was outside the preview of an ordinary person following the game.
“Though the de-jure ownership vests in India Cements, the committee finds that Meiyappan was in fact acting as a team official if not the de-facto owner of CSK. For the purpose of this report, the committee is of the opinion that the terminology used to describe Meiyappan, be it ‘team principal’ or ‘owner’, would not materially alter his status/position held in CSK. The committee is of the opinion that Meiyappan would be a ‘team official’ under IPL rules.”