The Supreme Court on Tuesday allowed BCCI to have access to audio transcripts of the contentious statements made by Indian captain MS Dhoni and ousted BCCI chief N Srinivasan before the IPL probe panel, but bound them with confidentiality of the transcripts too.
A bench of Justices AK Patnaik and FMI Kalifulla allowed a plea by the BCCI to direct the Justice Mudgal panel to hand over the necessary tapes and transcripts to them so that they could argue the case effectively. It asked the probe committee to provide audio recordings to the Supreme Court’s Secretary General, who will make arrangements for BCCI and Srinivasan’s counsel to hear the tapes in the apex court.\
The court asked the Board and Srinivasan to maintain complete confidentiality of the contents of the audio tapes and not to leak it to anybody. “Any content of the audio recordings going out means cricket would be blackened in the country,” it said. The audio recordings will be heard in the presence of the Secretary General by advocate Amit Sibal on behalf of Srinivasan and advocate Rohini Musa on behalf of the Board.
Earlier, BCCI counsel had told the bench that they required to ascertain the panel’s indictment of attempted cover-up by Dhoni, Srinivasan and IPL Chief Operating Officer Sundar Raman to protect Srinivasan’s son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan in the IPL betting scandal. He informed the court that Dhoni and Srinivasan had refuted having made any statement to the panel relating to Meiyappan’s role.
The bench had then sought the panel’s response on the availability of the audio tapes and its views whether these could be handed over to the BCCI.
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On Tuesday, senior advocate Gopal Subramaniam appeared for the panel and confirmed availability of the tapes. He said the recorded conversations spanned from November 5, 2013 to January 6, 2014 and these could be made available in a pen drive.
Subramaniam also disclosed that the panel stopped audio-recording after January 6 since it apprehended leaking out of the tapes to outsiders. He also pleaded the court to maintain confidentiality, pointing out that some of the very important cricketers had recorded their statements on an assurance of maintaining secrecy.
The bench assured Subramaniam of confidentiality and asked the panel to submit the pen drive to the SC Secretary General. Commenting on the issue of conflict of interest by former CBI Director RK Raghavan, who is one of the three members of the proposed panel by the BCCI, Subramanim told the bench that Raghavan, “like a gentleman,” had expressed his reservations on speaking about Srinivasan.
“He told the panel he knew Srinivasan really well,” added the counsel, while furnishing a typed copy of the statement recorded by Raghavan before the probe panel.
Subramaniam further objected to BCCI’s demand for transcripts of statements by only three persons, saying that the report was prepared on the basis of the statements of not only these three but by various others and also after relying on certain documents. The court however passed the order to hand over relevant transcripts to the BCCI and Srinivasan and posted the matter for Tuesday next week.