'BCCI reputation lowest in 80 years' - Manohar
Former BCCI President Shashank Manohar has said he was "disillusioned" by the happenings at the BCCI's emergent working committee meeting on Sunday, which picked a three-member panel to investigate the IPL corruption scandal as directed by India's Supreme Court. Manohar, who served as BCCI president from to 2008-2011, attended the meeting as a special nominee of the Vidarbha Cricket Association, which is a member of the BCCI working committee.
Manohar told ESPNcricinfo he had gone to the meeting "with a particular purpose, to help handle this crisis. The Board's reputation is the lowest that it has been in the 80 years since it was founded. The situation needed to be cleaned up."
Manohar would say no more about the meeting, at which the names of RK Raghavan, JN Patel and Ravi Shastri were picked for the BCCI panel to be presented to the Supreme Court for its next hearing on Tuesday. The BCCI is yet to officially announce the names, however, with BCCI secretary Sanjay Patel saying they could not be revealed "considering the sanctity of the court."
Manohar has been critical of how the BCCI has handled the IPL case, saying on Friday that "nothing has moved in the last one year" because the Board lacked leaders to take on Srinivasan "who is shamelessly and stubbornly sticking to his chair."
It is understood that in addition to Raghavan, Patel and Shastri, four more names were discussed: former Lok Sabha speaker Somnath Chatterjee, Justice Mukul Mudgal, who headed the Court-appointed committee to look into the IPL 2013 corruption scandal, L Nageshwar Rao, the additional solicitor general of India who was also part of the Mudgal committee and BCCI interim president Shivlal Yadav. While the names of Patel, Shastri and Raghavan were brought to vote, those of Mudgal and/or Rao and Chatterjee were not. There is some discrepancy over the number of people - either 11 or 14 - who supported Raghavan's name at the meeting, where all proceedings were recorded in audio.
The selection of both Raghavan and Shastri can be questioned for separate reasons. Raghavan, who headed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) during the match-fixing inquiry in 2000, was one of the 52 people who deposed before the Mudgal committee. Should he be a part of the BCCI-nominated panel to look into the case, he will have gone from being witness to judge in the same case. Shastri is a paid employee of the BCCI, in his capacity as commentator. He is also a member of the governing council and - according to the website on Monday morning - part of two of the IPL's four committees, and will personally know most of the individuals who are to be investigated, including BCCI president N Srinivasan.
In order to explain Shastri's contentious inclusion, Patel had said that the Bombay High Court, in an order in 2013, had said any BCCI probe committee needed to include one member from the Code of Behaviour committee under the IPL Operational Rules. The last BCCI-appointed panel to look into the IPL corruption scandal was declared illegal by the Bombay High Court, with differing explanations about its formation.
Last week, the two-judge Supreme Court bench consisting of Justice AK Patnaik and FM Ibrahim Kalifullah, asked the BCCI to revert with "constructive, corrective" measures with regard to how it can ensure a free and fair probe. The court said it did not want to infringe on the "institutional autonomy" of the BCCI by ordering an independent probe and said: "We are not inclined to do it [hand the case over to the CBI]... But if we are compelled we will do it."
The case dates back to June 2013 when the Cricket Association of Bihar secretary Aditya Verma raised charges of conflict of interest in the formation of BCCI's two-member inquiry panel into the IPL corruption issue. After the Bombay High Court declared the panel illegal, the BCCI and the CAB filed petitions in the Supreme Court against this order; with the CAB contending that the Bombay High Court could have suggested a fresh mechanism to look into the corruption allegations.
The Supreme Court then appointed a three-member committee, headed by former High Court judge Mukul Mudgal, and comprising additional solicitor general L Nageswara Rao and Nilay Dutta, in October 2013, to conduct an independent inquiry into the allegations of corruption against Srinivasan's son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan, India Cements, and Rajasthan Royals team owner Jaipur IPL Cricket Private Ltd, as well as with the larger mandate of allegations around betting and spot-fixing in IPL matches and the involvement of players. The committee had submitted its findings to the court on February 10.
Sharda Ugra is senior editor at ESPNcricinfo