A day after it was formed, the three-member panel proposed by the BCCI to probe the Indian Premier League (IPL) corruption scandal came under sharp focus for its composition on Monday, with questions of conflict of interest being raised about the members.
Sharad Pawar and Lalit Modi, both influential BCCI members once, hinted that former CBI director R K Raghavan and Jai Narayan Patel, former chief justice of the Calcutta High Court, had conflicting links with either the board or its officials.
Former cricketer Ravi Shastri, the third member proposed by the board, is contracted to it as a commentator.
“Somebody rang me up from Andhra Pradesh this morning, saying the BCCI’s interim president Shivlal Yadav and Patel are close relatives. Brother-in-law or something like that. I don’t know him (Patel) personally, but I think it is his duty to disclose if this news is correct,” Pawar said.
Lalit Modi took to Twitter to express his reservations about Raghavan. The former IPS officer, he tweeted, is an affiliated member of the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association (TNCA), whose president is deposed BCCI chief N Srinivasan.
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“Mr. R K Raghavan is secretary of Kamyuth Cricket Club an affiliated member of TNCA. He was further a witness in Mudgal inquiry. Mr Raghavan was further proposed to be part of a inquiry which was initiated by N Srinivasan earlier. Thus that was already rejected by the honourable Supreme Court,” Modi tweeted.
Raghavan confirmed he was a TNCA member but added that it was up to the court to take a call on him being on the probe panel.
“There are about 150-200 people in TNCA and I’m one of them. Let the Supreme Court decide tomorrow. I’m not going to say anything more about this,” Raghavan told The Indian Express.
The interim BCCI president and former India off-spinner Yadav, on the other hand, distanced himself from the decision to include Patel and refused to comment on his family ties with Patel.
“I’m not going to comment on this. His name was proposed by Shashank Manohar and we will put forward the names of our proposed committee members to the honourable Supreme Court. If the apex court has any misgivings it will inform us about that,” Yadav said.
Sources in Hyderabad, however, claimed the two are related and former BCCI secretary Niranjan Shah too indicated the same.
“I think Justice Patel and Shivlal Yadav are brothers-in-law but that should never be a problem. Justice Patel is a man of highest integrity and all BCCI members accepted his name,” Shah told The Indian Express.
“As for Ravi Shastri, the only problem is that he’s on BCCI’s payroll, which is the reason why some members objected to his nomination. Shastri too is a man of top integrity and he will deal with the matter fair and square. The only point is a panel member should be above every debate,” he said.
Former BCCI chief Manohar said he had indeed suggested Patel’s name.
“I proposed Justice J N Patel’s name because he’s a man of highest honesty and integrity. I am not concerned about whether Shivlal Yadav and Justice Patel are close relatives,” Manohar told The Indian Express.
Pawar was quick to add that Patel should step down if the reports about him being related to Yadav were true. “If the news is correct, then the people will judge. Generally, I have seen many times (that) a judge, if there is some lawyer who is close to him is there, will immediately recuse himself from the case. I am sure that knowing fully well Justice Patel’s reputation, he will not allow this type of a thing,” he said.
The former BCCI and ICC president also questioned the inclusion of Shastri on the panel, saying that it was inevitable that eyebrows would be raised considering that the former India captain was on the board’s pay-roll.
“Ravi Shastri is a good player. In fact, when I was BCCI chief, we signed a contract with him and Sunil Gavaskar. So, he had a financial contract with BCCI. Now, someone says how can a person who has got a financial contract with BCCI become part of an inquiry committee of BCCI chief,” he said.
“I have no reservation about Shastri’s integrity, his honesty. But definitely, anybody can raise the issue. And that is why, a sensible person will try to keep away from this (probe panel),” added Pawar.
The BCCI had approved the names of Shastri, Raghavan and Patel during its emergent working committee meeting in Mumbai on Sunday in response to the Supreme Court directive asking it to propose measures for a fair probe into the IPL fixing saga.
It will now be up to the apex court to accept the board’s recommendations or appoint its own independent panel when it hears the case Tuesday.