Addressing a crowded press conference after a meeting of the Board’s Working Committee,BCCI President N Srinivasan promised to take strongest possible action against the players if they are found guilty.
The BCCI appointed its anti-corruption chief Ravi Sawani as the commissioner of inquiry and has told him to file his report “as soon as possible”.
“Everybody is innocent till proven guilty. The BCCI will not cover up for anybody but our actions must be fair. We will go through the process. If somebody is found guilty,we will act sternly,” he added.
“It (the inquiry) will be done very quickly,it is an internal inquiry,we might need some information from the police. Rest is upto Mr Sawani but it will be quickly done. We have to observe all channels of natural justice. We have rules and BCCI’s own system,” he stressed.
The IPL was dealt a massive blow when a special cell of the Delhi police arrested India pacer S Sreesanth and his Rajasthan Royals teammates — Ajit Chandila and Ankeet Chavan — on Thursday for indulging in spot-fixing in at least three IPL matches as per arrangements with bookies who have underworld connections abroad.
In a bid to check corruption,the BCCI chief said the Board will appoint anti-corruption officer with each of the IPL franchises along with a security officer to monitor players’ movement.
He also said that the players’ agents will now be accredited by the Board.
“The Working Committee decided henceforth all player agents have to be accredited by the BCCI. There will be an ACSU (Anti-Corruption and Security Unit) official appointed with each team along with a security officer,” he said.
“Access to the players would be monitored. The head of ICC ACSU will give a note recommending steps to the BCCI to deal with it,” he added.
Srinivasan said the Board did not have resources to tackle bookies and they could only monitor the players.
“It was explained to us that we can control the players to some extent but not being law enforcers,we are handicapped
when it comes to control over bookies. A detailed memorandum was given to me to further strengthen the vigilance and monitoring the players in such tournaments,” he said.
Rajasthan Royals were represented by co-owner Manoj Badale. Besides,IPL Governing Council member Ravi Shastri and BCCI Technical Committee head Anil Kumble also participated in the meeting. Kumble joined in via video conferencing.
“The Working Committee was briefed about all the steps that have been taken by ACSU to educate all the players of all the teams prior to the tournament,” said Srinivasan.
“They (the ACSU) had also given them examples of how corruption has taken place in the past and obtained the consent of the players that they understood what has been shared with them,” he added.
The players,who have been suspended by the BCCI,have been charged under section 420 (cheating) and 120-B (criminal conspiracy) of the IPC.
The Board has also suspended first-class cricketer Amit Singh,who is allegedly a bookmaker now and was arrested along with 10 other bookies on May 16.
Srinivasan also dismissed suggestions that the Board did not crack down on corruption despite getting warnings from the ICC.
“The ICC ACSU confirmed today that they had not informed us of anything. That information is incorrect,” he said.
Claiming that the Board has not received any information from the Delhi Police on the matter,Srinivasan said they would seek it during the course of the internal inquiry.
“We have to go by the rules applicable to players. We have also requested the police to provide information to complete our inquiry. We have also offered Delhi Police all our assistance in this regard,” he said.
“If players are found guilty we won’t hesitate to act ruthlessly.”
Srinivasan said the Board was not authorised to lodge a complaint against the players as they were contracted with the Rajasthan Royals.
“We are advised the BCCI by itself cannot lodge an FIR. The franchise will do. We will go by the report of the disciplinary committee,” he said.
The Board chief also said that the Delhi Police has not informed them about the involvement of players other than the ones who have been arrested.
“It’s a question of three players who are alleged to have committed something wrong by doing spot-fixing. As far as BCCI is concerned we will go by report of inquiry commission. We will not hesitate to act but we can act only against people
who are guilty.
“We have engaged the services of ICC ACSU,they are monitoring the tournament. We don’t have the resources to have professionals,” he said.
Srinivasan said the players’ education system for tackling corruption would be strengthened.
“We already have rules and regulations. The ICC ACSU is incharge of monitoring. Before the start of the season,they have educated all the players about dos and don’ts. It is not as if nothing has been done,” he said.
“They (the players) have signed forms to say that they have understood everything. Nothing further was left to be done. All I can say is that I cannot presume,it is only after we get the report that any action cane be taken. We have made it clear that we will not hesitate to take strongest possible action. We will intensify the education program that we have,” Srinivasan said.
“We have no information from the police,” he added when asked if other players could also be involved.
Srinivasan continued to blame the individual players for the crisis.
“The mistake if at all is the greed of the players. We don’t encourage betting,we do not encourage anything. Betting is not legal in India,the police has to act,” he said.
The Board chief also defended the IPL,saying that the fans’ heavy turnout has proved that the tournament will survive the crisis.
“For the last 3-4 days there has been BCCI bashing and IPL bashing,as if the whole world has fallen down. The fact is,three players has allegedly indulged in something.
“IPL brand equity has not been affected,we are grateful to the public for still coming out. Accusations can be made but we are very grateful to the fans who have come out in support of cricket,” he said.
Asked whether legalising betting would curb corruption,Srinivasan said,”Betting being legalised is a different debate. In other countries they have legalised and it has helped but I don’t know about India.”
The Board chief was once again asked about sacked IPL Commissioner Lalit Modi’s latest allegations that he had warned of fixing in IPL but he offered a straight bat.
“Unfortunately I am not in a position to comment on Modi. There is an inquiry against Modi and it is not fair for me to say anything. As a policy I don’t respond to anything Mr Modi says,” he said in a curt reply.
Srinivasan defended the current anti-corruption drive of the ICC and the BCCI,saying,”The ACSU of the ICC,they cannot gather info like police. There are lot of restrictions.”
“…alright three players have indulged in something but the education program of ICC and BCCI has been successful because a lot of players have understood what they should be doing and what they should not be doing.”
He also rejected suggestions that bringing the BCCI under the Right to Information act would help deal with betting and fixing.
“We are a private organisation,we don’t get funds from the government,the RTI will not apply to us. If three players want to make money,RTI cannot stop it. We will continue to hold our view on this,” he said.
“We will put in place all measures to monitor players’ behaviour,” he added.