Listen to the court

SC lends its weight to calls for N. Srinivasan’s resignation from BCCI for the sake of a fair probe.

Updated: March 25, 2014 11:54:38 pm

SC lends its weight to calls for N. Srinivasan’s resignation from BCCI for the sake of a fair probe.

The findings of the Justice Mukul Mudgal committee on corruption in the IPL have rightly outraged the Supreme Court. While recommending that BCCI president N. Srinivasan step down for a free and fair investigation of the scandal, the court has asked a valid and obvious question: “How did Srinivasan stay on, despite all the allegations?”

Welcome to Indian cricket’s disillusioned fans’ club, which has been pondering this mystery for years now. From 2008, to be precise, when Srinivasan, then the BCCI secretary, bought Chennai’s IPL franchise, to last year, when his son-in-law and the Super Kings’ card-carrying member, Gurunath Meiyappan, was arrested for betting on games while sitting in the dug-out wearing his team colours.

This latest and probably darkest hour of Indian cricket has shown that the BCCI president has survived every conflict of interest crisis because of the inability or unwillingness of other members to stand up to him — a mix of powerful politicians, influential businessmen and wily old cricket administrators, who intriguingly fall silent in Srinivasan’s presence. The BCCI was never known for its democratic dynamism but it always had factions and spaces for divergent views.

AGMs, in the past, would be heated affairs with raging debates and strong voices of opposition. There were always opportunists, backstabbers and kingmakers lurking in the background, biding their time, capable of managing a coup or two. Unlike the Srinivasan era, however, members couldn’t remain blind or mute to authoritarian functioning for this long. The end of rebellion has also meant the fading of those crucial checks and balances that differentiate a cosy club from an institution.

Srinivasan might have ensured a larger share of the telecast money pie to the units, world-class stadiums across the country and more power to India in world cricket. But he needs to follow the basic rules of good governance and come clean on the messy affair that connects his home to the workplace. The BCCI president needs to remember what the court has said: “step down”, not “step aside”, as he did during the last internal probe.

And while this probe is underway, the BCCI needs a credible figure at the helm. Here’s hoping that the court’s observation will see the BCCI members grow a spine. And, hopefully, help rescue Indian cricket.

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