India news April 20, 2014

Shastri in proposed IPL probe panel

The BCCI will propose to the Supreme Court on Tuesday the names of RK Raghavan, former Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) head, JN Patel, a former chief justice of the Calcutta High Court, and former India allrounder Ravi Shastri to constitute the panel to probe corruption allegations in the IPL.

The decision was taken at the emergent working committee meeting in Mumbai, which was attended by former BCCI president Shashank Manohar.

In its previous order on April 16, the Supreme Court had asked the BCCI to come back with constructive corrective measures to ensure a free and fair probe. Accordingly, the working committee of the board met on Sunday with a single-point agenda.

Incidentally, despite various working committee members confirming the names on the proposed probe panel, the BCCI secretary Sanjay Patel refused to divulge the names. "We have finalised the three-member panel that will be proposed to the Supreme Court but considering the sanctity of the court, I cannot reveal their names," Patel said.

The biggest surprise of the day was Manohar, who had not attended a board meeting since handing over the presidency to N Srinivasan in October 2011. He represented the Vidarbha Cricket Association, which is part of the working committee. VCA president Prakash Dixit was expected to attending the meeting but Manohar's presence was significant because he has been a critic of Srinivasan in the past month. During the meeting, Manohar was the lone opposing voice.

It is understood that in addition to Raghavan, Patel and Shastri, three more names were discussed: former Lok Sabha speaker Somnath Chatterjee, L Nageshwar Rao, the additional solicitor general of India who was also part of the Justice Mudgal inquiry committee, and BCCI interim president Shivlal Yadav.

According to a panel member - a special invitee of Yadav - Raghavan and Shastri were not unanimous choices. However, it is understood that when a show-of-hands vote was taken for Raghavan, there were 14 members in favour, with a solitary opponent - Manohar.

Shastri's nomination has already raised several eyebrows considering he is a BCCI-contracted commentator and has been vocal in his praise for Srinivasan in public. It was learned that Manohar objected to this choice too.

According to Sanjay Patel, Shastri has been associated with the IPL right from its inception and that was one consideration. "The two good reasons were, Shastri has been around for a long time as a cricketer and he is also part of the various IPL committees including the governing council," Patel told ESPNcricinfo.

Patel also explained at the meeting that the Bombay High Court, in an order in 2013, had said the probe committee needed to include one member from the Code of Behaviour committee under the IPL Operational Rules. According to the IPL website, the Code of Behaviour Committee comprises Sanjay Patel, Ranjib Biswal, Amitabh Chaudhary, Ravi Shastri and Arindam Ganguly. While Shastri is not an office bearer of the BCCI, he is on its payroll as a commentator and is a member of the governing council. His name is on two of four other IPL committees on the tournament website.

When asked why Manohar was against Raghavan's nomination, Patel said the former BCCI president wanted to check whether the board had been associated with the former CBI head in the past. Raghavan was among the people interviewed by the Mudgal probe into IPL corruption, although there is no other reference in the final inquiry report. "We have never taken any help from Raghavan," Patel said. "Also his stature as a former cop who has been part of important probes made him a good choice."

Patel said Nageshwar Rao was Manohar's choice but other members did not support it. "Since he (Rao) was already part of the Mudgal probe, his presence on any fresh panel could affected the probe," Patel said.

It was Patel who proposed the names of Raghavan, JN Patel and Shastri, but Yadav had been one of Patel's original choices. "Shivlal said he did not want to be part of the committee because any decision taken by the probe panel would need to be referred to the BCCI disciplinary panel which his headed by the BCCI president. Otherwise many members were in favour of him being part of the panel."

Bharat Raman, one of the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association's legal advisors, represented the state body at the meeting while Kasi Viswanathan, the TNCA secretary and a close Srinivasan aide, was at the BCCI office. Saurashtra Cricket Association secretary Niranjan Shah, Kerala Cricket Association president TC Mathew and Tripura Cricket Association secretary Arindam Ganguly also attended as special invitees.

Amol Karhadkar is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo. Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor