India news March 27, 2014

'All players should not suffer' - Justice Mudgal

ESPNcricinfo staff

'All players should not suffer' - Mudgal

Justice Mukul Mudgal, whose independent probe committee carried out a four-month long investigation into corruption in the IPL, has said that players should not suffer as a result of the ongoing case between the BCCI and the Cricket Association of Bihar in the Supreme Court.

Responding to the Supreme Court's proposals to change the leadership of the BCCI on Thursday, Justice Mudgal said the recommendations were a "punishment" for IPL offences.

"I can't totally comment on them [the proposals] because this depends on what the Board's response is," he told ESPNcricinfo. "But it's a punishment for the IPL offences and the Supreme Court will take a look after the BCCI's response and see what punishment should be imposed on the teams. Perhaps all the players should not suffer."

Mudgal pointed out that the suspension of Rajasthan Royals and Chennai Super Kings, whose players and team officials faced arrests over alleged involvement in betting and spot-fixing, had only been suggested by the court.

"It has not been ordered. I'm sure the court will look at all the ifs and buts and the pros and cons before actually passing any order," he said. "This [the proposals] is only to elicit the response of the BCCI, according to me… There are clean players, too. I'm sure the court will take that into consideration."

Mudgal, a cricket fan for the last six decades, said that despite corruption in the IPL, it could not be assumed that "all matches are fixed." He said: "There are bad fish but not everybody should be painted with the same brush. We have some extremely dedicated players who sincerely work hard."

In the Supreme Court on Thursday, there were several references by the CAB's defence counsel Harish Salve, to the many overlapping roles being carried out during Srinivasan's term as BCCI president and often leading back to him. These related not merely to Srinivasan's positions as board president, managing director of India Cements and, through that, owner of the Super Kings franchise in the IPL. There were also several India Cements officials holding positions in the BCCI administrative structures and the company also employed MS Dhoni as a vice-president.

The conflict of issue, Mudgal said, had been brought into his report even thought it was not in the committee's terms of reference.

"Since so many people deposing to us referred to it, we only summarized their depositions and gave it to the court and without expressing any opinion whether there was a conflict of interest or not," he said. "It wouldn't have been proper for us to do so."

When asked whether the conflict of interest due to Srinivasan's "many hats" turned out to be the central issue in court, Mudgal said: "Perhaps, it could be. But it's the court's decision and not our recommendation. All the people who were not directly connected with the BCCI had mentioned it, so it was surely something that deserved to be brought to the notice of the court and that was our duty."

Talking about Justice AK Patnaik, who has been heading the bench in this case for the last eight months, Mudgal said that while he had not sat with the judge on the same bench (as he belonged to another high court), Patnaik was "a judge of great constitutional knowledge and one of the most popular judges of the Supreme Court. He is a kind, compassionate judge."

Mudgal found his experience on heading the probe panel to be a "process of learning." According to him, the opportunity to interact with "people involved in the game gives you a slightly different perspective from what you have had as a spectator." He admitted his opinion about Indian cricket "did change much" while working on the investigation and he had "learnt more" on the panel which was "a good education." He was not, however, surprised by the presence of corruption in sport. "I've been a judge for about 15 years, I have seen all facets of human behavior - murder, etc," he said. "So was I surprised? No."

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