Asserting that the purity of Cricket had to be maintained at all cost, the Supreme Court on Monday found it “difficult to accept” N Srinivasan’s argument that he had no conflict of interest even as he owned Chennai Super Kings in the IPL while being at the helm of the BCCI.
A bench of Justices TS Thakur and FMI Kalifulla said that conflict of interest was equivalent to bias, which did not have to actually occur but even a likelihood of its occurrence was enough.
“Taking all circumstances in account, it is very difficult to accept your contention that there is no conflict of interest. You being MD of India Cements, India Cements owning CSK, an official of CSK involved in betting and you heading the BCCI,” the bench told Srinivasan’s lawyer Kapil Sibal.
Sibal, however, submitted that by that standard, conflict of interest is prevalent in every sphere of activities and noted that Hockey Federation and FIFA allow it.
The bench proposed that action on the basis of Justice Mudgal report should be taken by the Board, which will be constituted after the election. It, however, asked who should be allowed to fight for BCCI elections. “BCCI must be free from any blemish if we allow it to decide,” said the court, adding: “Who should be allowed to contest? Can a person indicted by the Committee be allowed to contest the elections?.
The bench said that cricket administrators should be “above board and above all the allegations” to decide the future course of correction.
“We are not saying that there is a fraud in getting franchise but once you become a team owner then your interest in team and as a cricket administrator pull you in opposite directions,” the bench told Srinivasan. “You are a contractor (being CSK owner) and also head of a contracting party (BCCI),” it said.