India news April 22, 2014

Court asks Mudgal committee to continue probe

ESPNcricinfo staff

The Supreme Court has asked the Justice Mudgal committee to investigate the IPL corruption issue, and in particular the 13 names mentioned in the sealed envelope, with the assistance of other investigators. Mukul Mudgal has communicated to the court his willingness to take up the investigation and has been asked to specify the terms and modalities on April 29, the next date of hearing.

Mudgal told CNN-IBN: "We [the panel] have given our consent, it is entirely for the Supreme Court to decide... I will wait for the Supreme Court's order."

The development suggests the court will not, at this point, entertain the BCCI's proposed three-member inquiry panel, which included Ravi Shastri, former judge JN Patel and former director of the CBI, RK Raghavan. The Cricket Association of Bihar, the complainants in the case, had raised objections to the BCCI panel during the arguments on Tuesday.

The Mudgal committee was set up by the court in October last year to investigate the fixing allegations that arose during the IPL's 2013 season. It had submitted its report in February this year; a report that included a sealed envelope - to be seen only by the judges - with the names of 13 people who, the committee said, should be further investigated. That is what the court has now asked the Mudgal committee to investigate.

The court will make a formal announcement in regard to the composition of a new panel and the terms and modalities of its operations on Tuesday.

The offer to Mudgal was made at a hearing this morning, following which the court adjourned for lunch and awaited Mudgal's reply. When it reassembled, Gopal Subramaniam, who appeared on behalf of the Mudgal panel in the morning, was attending to another case. The court then issued orders to the Mudgal committee's secretary Vidushpat Singhania that the panel should return on Tuesday with the names of its members, as well as the details of the official agencies it needed to assist the investigation.

At its previous hearing on April 16, the Supreme Court had revealed that Srinivasan was one of 13 individuals facing allegations of corruption. It had asked the BCCI to come to the next hearing with constructive corrective measures on conducting a fair probe into the IPL corruption scandal. In response to the court directive, the BCCI held an emergent working committee meeting on Sunday and put forward the names of Shastri, Patel and Raghavan.

During Tuesday's hearing, Subramaniam provided details of Raghavan's deposition before the Mudgal committee. Raghavan had been invited by the Mudgal committee to suggest measures to tackle betting in cricket, due to his experience in the 2000 CBI investigation into match-fixing. Raghavan told the Mudgal committee that he was not in a position to talk about Srinivasan because he owned a cricket club in Chennai that functioned under the aegis of the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association headed by Srinivasan, making him an administrator in the TNCA set-up. The CAB was represented by Abhishek Manu Singhvi, who is a member of the upper house of the Indian parliament.

The case dates back to June 2013, when the Cricket Association of Bihar (CAB) secretary Aditya Verma raised charges of a conflict of interest in the BCCI's original two-member inquiry panel for the IPL corruption issue. A Bombay High Court ruling later termed the probe 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 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.

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