The panel comprising former Chief Justice of India RM Lodha and retired Supreme Court judges Ashok Bhan and RV Raveendran, has been assigned to recommend changes to cricket board’s constitution and the manner of its functioning. It also has a small matter of investigating Sundar Raman’s role in the 2013 IPL spot-fixing and betting scandal and advise suitable punishment. D-Day looms for the ex-IPL chief operating officer (COO).
As per the Mudgal report, Raman is facing a couple of serious charges. A committee led by Justice Mukul Mudgal had probed into the IPL controversy and reported that Raman “knew the contact of a bookie and had contacted him eight times in one season”.
The Mudgal report named Raman as Individual 12 and mentioned that he had received information about the betting activities of Individual 1 and Individual 11 – Gurunath Meiyappan and Raj Kundra — former Chennai Super Kings official and Rajasthan Royals co-owner respectively, who were banned for life by the Lodha committee. Raman allegedly didn’t share the information with “any other individual”.
During his hearing before the Mudgal panel, Raman reportedly admitted that he “knew” the contact of a person but was “unaware” of his betting activities. He also defended himself on the Meiyappan and Kundra issue, claiming that he was “informed” by the ICC Anti-Corruption and Security Unit (ACSU) chief that it was not “actionable information”.
“I was recruited by the BCCI in 2008 and as part of my duties I had to interact with various officials, VIPs, bureaucrats and celebrities from all walks of life. Most of the interactions revolve around arranging and facilitating their attendance at matches and events connected to IPL. The Mudgal committee report doesn’t specifically say that I had knowledge that the person concerned was the contact of a bookie. The person concerned was also a celeb, a movie actor and also a TV star. As IPL COO, I had to deal with celebrities as part of my job. Celebs often call for tickets and invites to events – such bonafide interaction can’t be the basis of any misdemeanour on my part,” Raman had said in his affidavit before the apex court. It would be interesting see how he presented his case before the Lodha panel during the November 15 hearing.
The Indian cricket board under its present dispensation is unlikely to go-slow on Raman if any punitive action is recommended against him. Manohar had publicly called for his ouster even before assuming the BCCI top office. “Raman should have gone immediately after the Mudgal committee report found him prima facie guilty of wrongdoings. He ought to have stepped down immediately at that time. Now, to restore the faith of people in IPL and the game, Raman needs to go,” Manohar had said in July. So once he became the BCCI president on October 4, Raman’s position as IPL COO had become untenable.
Raman had been the ubiquitous face of the IPL ever since its inception. He was a hard worker who kept daily data meticulously. His professional ability made him very important to the tainted former IPL chairman and commissioner Lalit Modi. After the latter was ousted in 2010, Raman became equally important to N Srinivasan and survived on his support despite being indicted by the Mudgal report.
Raman now works for Reliance Industries as its chief executive officer – sports. His designation allows him to be present at IPL 9 auction in February – on behalf of Mumbai Indians. The Lodha committee verdict, however, can throw a spanner and determine his cricketing fate.