The Supreme Court of India on Monday expressed unhappiness over N Srinivasan’s participation in a BCCI meeting on February 8. The apex court said “Srinivasan should not have done this, we have certainly found that there is a conflict of interest”.
Srinivasan said the apex court had disqualified him only from contesting elections and not holding post as BCCI president. The court posted the case for Friday after senior advocate Kapil Sibal said he would take instructions from Srinivasan.
On January 22, 2015, heralding an overhaul in the Indian cricket administration, the Supreme Court allowed the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to hold elections in the next six weeks, but barred persons holding commercial interests in the cricketing body’s events, including Chennai Super Kings (CSK) team owner and BCCI president-in-exile, Srinivasan, from contesting.
A Bench of Justices T.S. Thakur and Fakir Mohamed Ibrahim Kalifulla, in a detailed judgment in the 2013 IPL betting and spot-fixing case, held that the disqualification of people donning both caps of cricket administrator and IPL team owner will continue until they choose to shed one of them.
This means that Srinivasan, who is the Managing Director of India Cements, the company which owns the Chennai Super Kings, has to shed his equity in the CSK to be eligible to contest the BCCI elections.
As a prelude to this direction, the Bench held the February 2008 amendment to rule 6.2.4, which allowed cricket administrators to become team owners, as “void and ineffective”, while observing that the amendment “perpetuates” conflict of interest in the running of the popular game.
It asked whether the BCCI, which it held as conducting a “public function” and amenable to writ jurisdiction, can live with the idea that the game is being played to cheat the public. The court said people will lose interest if it is found that the game is run by a few business interests.
The Bench however, gave Srinivasan a clean chit on allegations made against him that he had misused his official position in the BCCI to cover-up the misdeeds like betting and spot-fixing indulged in by team owners and officials during IPL games. It said these were mere “suspicions” and “difficult” to prove.
The court further confirmed the Justice Mukul Mudgal probe committee’s findings by holding Srinivasan's son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan and Raj Kundra, part-owner of Rajasthan Royals IPL team, guilty of betting. It dismissed claims made that Meiyappan was no team official but a cricket enthusiast. Justice Thakur, who wrote the judgment, said there was enough evidence to prove that Meiyappan was a team official privy to sensitive information.
The Bench further went on to make franchises - CSK and RR - liable for “misconduct” of Meiyappan and Kundra, saying that “misconduct is not only punishable against team officials but also against franchises”.
The Bench said it would not be fair to leave the task of deciding the quantum of punishment of CSK, RR, Meiyappan and Kundra to either the BCCI or to the apex court itself. So, it ordered the setting up of a three-member high-powered committee led by former Chief Justice of India R.S. Lodha and former Supreme Court judges Ashok Bhan and R.V. Raveendran as members to decide the question of punishment.