In a major embarrassment for BCCI president N Srinivasan, a Supreme Court-appointed panel has held his son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan guilty of betting and passing on team information during the IPL matches last year. The panel also said the concerns about Srinivasan’s conflict of interest were “serious” and may have “largescale ramifications on the functioning of cricket”.
“The role of Meiyappan in Chennai Super Kings as a team official stands proved… allegations of betting and passing on information against him stand proved. However, the allegations of fixing require further investigation,” said the panel headed by Justice (retd) Mukul Mudgal, which submitted its report to a bench led by Justice A K Patnaik on Monday.
The panel trashed the statements made before it by Srinivasan and India captain M S Dhoni that Meiyappan had nothing to do with the cricketing affairs of CSK and that he was just a “cricket enthusiast” supporting the team.
While holding Meiyappan guilty of bringing disrepute to the game and CSK responsible for failing to check his actions, the panel brought to the notice of the court a possible conflict of interest, with Srinivasan being the BCCI president as well as the vice-chairman and managing director of India Cements which owns CSK.
“While it is evident that the questions raised before us about conflict of interest are serious and may have largescale ramifications on the functioning of cricket, we do not deem it proper to pronounce our opinion on this issue as it is not directly in our terms of reference,” said the panel.
The report comes at a time when Srinivasan is set to take control of the ICC by becoming its next chairman.
The Mudgal panel also recommended further probe against Raj Kundra and Shilpa Shetty, part-owners of Rajasthan Royals, besides suspending them from participating in any activity of the BCCI, including IPL matches, pending final determination of their role.
The court, which had in July last year appointed the IPL probe committee also comprising senior advocates Nilay Dutta and L N Rao, will consider the report on March 7. The petitioner, Cricket Association of Bihar, and the BCCI have been asked to adduce their comments on the report by the next date.
Urging the court to order a comprehensive probe by an independent agency and a time-bound criminal trial, the report, which comes two days ahead of the IPL auction scheduled for February 12-13, said there was enough material to show that a further probe was required into the contentious match between CSK and Rajasthan Royals in Jaipur on May 12, 2013.
Favouring action against CSK and Rajasthan Royals under relevant provisions of the IPL rules, the panel said any person who wished to be associated with an IPL team in any manner should also be asked to sign a code of conduct and be liable to similar obligations as the players.
The panel also underlined that players should not be allowed to own any stakes or interests in player agencies or companies involved with cricket, unless such interests are in the nature of sponsorship or endorsements.
Dhoni had recently faced charges of alleged conflict of interest over his reported stake in Rhiti Sports Management, which also managed cricketers Suresh Raina, Ravindra Jadeja and Pragyan Ojha. The firm had maintained that Dhoni was a shareholder only for a brief period, and currently held no stakes.
The panel recommended that no person holding office in the BCCI should have the power to curtail, restrict or define any such investigation. Srinivasan was a part of the disciplinary committee that defined the scope of the probe into the IPL spot-fixing and betting scandal.
The panel said there was a need for a system to register player agents while also ensuring that agents do not travel with the team or stay in the same hotel as the team.