With the Supreme Court Tuesday preferring its own investigators over the one recommended by the BCCI to go into the allegations of corruption in the IPL, the Mudgal panel expressed its readiness to conduct a detailed probe into the “serious allegations” against 13 people, including ousted BCCI chief N Srinivasan.
Responding to a query by the court, the panel’s counsel told a bench of Justices A K Patnaik and F M I Kalifulla that it is willing to abide by any orders and had no reservations against a further probe too.
The panel, appointed by the court, left it to the bench to decide on its future role and define the modalities of a further investigation. The bench listed the matter for next week to pass orders.
Earlier, the court had sought a categorical answer from the counsel representing the Mudgal panel on whether it would conduct a further probe into the allegations in the confidential report it submitted along with two volumes of the main report.
The bench said that it wanted the panel to probe further since “a lot of damage will be done to cricket” if details of the confidential report are leaked.
“What if we mandate it to you to probe also into this (secret report) and we give you more investigative powers? The reason (for this) is to maintain secrecy. We realise this requires investigation. You (counsel) take instructions and tell us. In case, the panel is willing, also tell us who would they want as investigators,” the court said.
It observed that the panel probably decided not to investigate the contents of the confidential report since it was beyond its terms of reference and also because it did not have adequate investigative powers.
The court noted that it was not inclined to hand over the probe either to the police or the CBI since both agencies were “badly managed”. It put on hold a decision on the BCCI’s recommendation for a three-member committee, comprising former India all-rounder Ravi Shastri, former Calcutta High Court chief justice J N Patel and former CBI director R K Raghavan.
While turning down a fresh plea by Srinivasan to return to the helm of affairs at the board as its elected chief, the SC had directed the BCCI to suggest names of persons who will conduct a “fair probe” into the IPL betting and spot-fixing scandal.
As the hearing began Tuesday, BCCI counsel C A Sundaram proposed the new committee and also included minutes of the meeting to show how the three were nominated.
The names were opposed by the counsel for the Cricket Association of Bihar, the petitioner in the case, saying all three had serious conflict of interest. CAB’s counsel said while Shastri was “heavily sponsored” by the BCCI, Patel was brother-in-law of Shivlal Yadav, who is acting as the BCCI chief except for IPL matters. On Raghavan, it was said that he was a member of a cricket club, which is a part of the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association, headed by Srinivasan.
The court, however, did not find favour with this line of argument.
“How is this important that Shivlal Yadav is brother-in-law of the former judge? There is nothing against Yadav in any report. Where is the question of conflict of interest? You want CBI to probe but is it not true that even CBI officers may be connected to somebody in some manner and have some link with the game? When we set up a committee, we also need to be sure of the integrity of the person besides other things,” it said.
On April 16, dashing the hopes of Srinivasan of being reinstated as the head of the Indian cricket board, the SC had said that the beleagured chief was among 13 “very important personalities in cricket” against whom the IPL probe panel had cited serious allegations and ruled that he could not return until an investigation is carried out.