Updated: March 26, 2014 8:50:07 am
Raising the pitch in its bid to address allegations of corruption plaguing the IPL, the Supreme Court on Tuesday issued an ultimatum to the BCCI and asked it to remove its President N Srinivasan from his post to ensure a fair probe in the case and make certain that cricket remains clean. Indicating that its probe panel had stumbled upon traces of match-fixing and spot-fixing in the domestic T20 league besides betting, the apex court bench of Justices A K Patnaik and F M I Kalifulla made it clear to the cricket board that the court would be constrained to pass a formal order if Srinivasan did not step down on his own. “We feel that unless the President of the BCCI steps down, no fair decision can be taken. Why is Mr Srinivasan sticking to his chair? It is nauseating. Courts after courts have said he should step down…Srinivasan should step down else we will pass a verdict,” said the bench, referring to “very serious” facts disclosed by a confidential report submitted by the court-appointed probe panel. The panel has held Srinivasan’s son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan guilty of betting and passing on team information during IPL matches last year. It also said the concerns about Srinivasan’s conflict of interest were “serious” and may have “large-scale ramifications on the functioning of cricket”. The panel had also submitted another report in a sealed cover with some details, it said, may require the bench’s consideration. As the hearing on the report began, BCCI counsel C A Sundaram sought to convince the bench that no further orders were required in the matter since an independent probe panel had already submitted its report and the BCCI was agreeable to almost all recommendations. Assuring the BCCI would take disciplinary action against erring players, Sundaram said that while the real worry was whether IPL players were involved in match-fixing or spot-fixing, the court-appointed panel had only found betting. The court, however, shot down his contention. “Don’t say that. You are saying this because you have not seen what is there in the sealed cover. We have seen it and so we are at the root of it. After going through it, we think there is a big question whether you will implement anything.” The court asked Sundaram to go through the confidential report as an officer of the court and “not as a lawyer paid by Srinivasan” and then argue whether Srinivasan should quit or not. “We don’t want to damage people’s reputation but in our opinion, Srinivasan must step down. The man at the top must go if there has to be any fair investigation…gist of the sealed cover report proves many allegations…allegations are such that the BCCI cannot be trusted with this,” it said after showing a portion of the report to Sundaram. The counsel contended that Srinivasan was a man of repute and that his stepping down may also impact the prospect of his taking over as head of the ICC in July. The bench, however, refused to entertain such arguments and asked the BCCI to come back with a response on Thursday. At one stage, the bench also compared the two reports – one by an earlier inquiry committee set up by the BCCI, and the other by the court. “Findings of the two committees are very different. Can we say report by your committee was managed? If people managed the report, what should be the consequences?” It regretted the state of affairs as unveiled by the panel, saying: “If cricket has to remain clean, why should all this happen at all? It is because the people who are in control are not taking the right decisions. Let us tell you there are no definite findings in the sealed cover but the allegations are very very serious.” The court had in July appointed the IPL probe committee, headed by Justice (retd) Mukul Mudgal and also comprising senior advocates Nilay Dutta and L N Rao. The panel submitted its report in February. While indicting Meiyappan, the panel had trashed the statements made before it by Srinivasan and India captain M S Dhoni that Meiyappan had nothing to do with the cricketing affairs of CSK and that he was just a “cricket enthusiast” supporting the team. It also recommended a further probe against Raj Kundra and Shilpa Shetty, part-owners of Rajasthan Royals, besides suspending them from participating in any activity of the BCCI, including IPL matches, pending a final determination of their role. Options before Srinivasan: He may inform SC Thursday about stepping down, but with conditions and for limited duration. He may oppose it, questioning what SC means ensuring “fair probe” since criminal investigation by police on and hence outside BCCI ambit. He may invite a speaking court order on removal, to enable him challenge it legally. Twiterrati reacts
Chances of CSK winning IPL is directly proportional to the chances of N Srinivasan retaining his BCCI president seat. — 0mar Abdullah (@abdullah_0mar) March 25, 2014
the supreme court seems to have come down really hard. stuck in dhaka on a big news day. — Harsha Bhogle (@bhogleharsha) March 25, 2014
Very serious developments in the IPL corruption investigation. Supreme Court demands Srinivasan stand down as President of BCCI. — Jonathan Agnew (@Aggerscricket) March 25, 2014
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