The Supreme Court of India rapped suspended BCCI chief N Srinivasan on Monday for owning an IPL team while remaining at the helm of the cricket establishment, saying that the sport should remain a “gentleman’s 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”.
“Some people who are in BCCI now own a team. It has become a mutual benefit society. Ownership of team raises conflict of interest,” the court said. “BCCI chief has to run the show but you have a team which raises questions.” 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.
His son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan, identified by the inquiry committee as a team principal for the Srinivasan-owned Chennai Super Kings (CSK), is accused of betting on IPL games. The IPL has been mired in controversy since May last year when India fast bowler S Sreesanth and two of his teammates from the Rajasthan Royals franchise 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 stake-holder 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.
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.”
Future of CSK, Rajasthan Royals uncertain
Meanwhile, the future of Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals remain uncertain as the Supreme Court asked whether Meiyappan's indictment by the Mudgal Committee, which found him to be a CSK official, would not lead to suspension of the team. If the court finally arrives at the same conclusion and rules in favour of CSK's suspension, given its official's involvement in betting in breach of IPL operational rule 4.4.2, then a similar fate could await Rajasthan Royals, whose owner Raj Kundra too has been indicted by the Mudgal panel for betting. A bench of justices TS Thakur and FMI Kalifulla said, "The finding of the Mudgal Committee can result in suspension of the team. If Meiyappan fits in as an official of CSK, there is the consequence of its suspension."