In the end, it was a slap on the wrist for ICC chairman N Srinivasan and some more trouble for his son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan. But what really came as a surprise in the Justice Mukul Mudgal panel report was the new link it unearthed — between IPL CEO Sundar Raman and an unnamed bookie.
The 29-page report by the panel — appointed by the Supreme Court to probe betting and match-fixing in IPL — has said that Raman was in touch with a bookie’s contact “eight times in one season”. It added that Raman had “admitted” that he knew the contact but claimed he was “unaware of his connection with betting activities”.
The report also stated that Raman was aware of the involvement of Meiyappan and Rajasthan Royals co-owner Raj Kundra in betting on the IPL.
As for Srinivasan and Meiyappan, the report’s findings are along expected lines. The panel has cleared Srinivasan of any involvement in fixing or betting and dismissed allegations that he tried to scuttle investigations into the IPL match-fixing scandal. But it found fault with him for ignoring a violation of the code of conduct by an unnamed player.
On Meiyappan, the report reiterated that Srinivasan’s son-in-law was involved in betting during the IPL and was indeed a team official of Chennai Super Kings at the time.
With the panel cornering Meiyappan and Kundra, the franchises they were part of have now come under the scanner. According to a clause in the IPL code of conduct, a team can be scrapped if any franchise, group company or owner acts in any way that effects the reputation of the league.
The Supreme Court had issued notices to these four individuals based on the findings of the panel.
Elaborating on Raman’s role in the controversy, the panel’s report said that the IPL chief executive “knew a contact of a bookie and had contacted him eight times in one season”.
“This individual also accepted that he had received information about individual 1 (Meiyappan) and individual 11 (Kundra) taking part in betting activities but was informed by the ICC-ACSU (International Cricket Council- Anti Corruption and Security Unit) chief that this was not actionable information. This individual also accepted that this information was not conveyed to any other individual,” the report said.
Reacting to the findings of the report, BCCI secretary Sanjay Patel said the board would seek a clarification from Raman.
“I haven’t read the full report yet but the portion I’ve read says that Sundar Raman had informed the matter to two Anti-Corruption and Security Unit (ACSU) officials but didn’t mention it to anyone else. Is that a crime? If you go to the police to report a misdemeanour, will you be hauled up for not going to the police commissioner? At the same time, let me make it clear, BCCI will spare no one. We will seek a clarification from Sundar Raman and if needed, action will be taken,” Patel said.
Asked about Srinivasan ignoring a code violation by a player, Patel said, “It would be wrong to interpret it that way. First, people started to say Srinivasan was into fixing. Now, after the revelation is made by the court, which shows BCCI and Srinivasan in good light, people are highlighting this code of conduct issue. There might be some technical breaches but you can’t take action or malign an individual on basis of that. The crux of the matter is that there’s nothing against Srinivasan (in the report) to hold him guilty. Also, we should wait for the final order from the Supreme Court.”
When the match-fixing scandal was exposed in May, Srinivasan’s son-in-law Meiyappan was among the first to be detained in a second wave of arrests by Mumbai Police after cricketers such as Sreesanth.
Referring to Meiyappan as individual 1, the report stated: “Investigations have confirmed that this individual was a team official of a franchisee. The forensic report of the voice sample analysis further confirms the voice of this individual in the conversation with the person acting as a go between, between this individual and bookies. Consequently, the divergence in the two reports dated 8.2.2014 and 9.2.2014, about the voice sample belonging to this Individual 1 gets resolved and the reports thus becomes unanimous about the betting activity of this individual. No material is available on record to show that this individual is involved in match fixing.”
On Rajasthan’s Kundra (individual 11), the report stated: “This individual was in touch with the bookies about betting and thus by not reporting contact about betting and thus by not reporting contact with the bookie has violated BCCI/IPL Anti-Corruption Code. The Committee also found that the investigation against this individual was abruptly and without reason stopped by the Rajasthan Police upon receiving the case papers from Delhi Police.
“The Committee found that a friend of Individual 11 was a known punter. The said punter has given a section 164 statement to the effect that he was placing bets on behalf of Individual 11. Section 161 statement made by another player confirmed that Individual 11 introduced him to a bookie.”
Reacting to these findings, the BCCI secretary said, “As for Raj Kundra and Gurunath Meiyappan, BCCI had suspended them and based on the court verdict, we will decide our future course of action. We fully cooperated with the Justice Mudgal panel during their investigation. We have nothing to hide.”