Mudgal to head investigation of IPL 'sealed envelope'
Former High Court judge Mukul Mudgal, who led the preliminary inquiry into the alleged corruption in the IPL will head a panel given greater powers to investigate the contents of the sealed envelope provided to India's highest court. Mudgal's colleagues on the previous committee, L Nageswara Rao and Nilay Dutta, will also be part of the panel. In its order delivered on Friday, the Supreme Court asked the committee to submit its report in a sealed envelope by end of August. The next hearing of the case will be "listed" in the first week of September.
The committee will be assisted by former senior Indian Police Service (IPS) officer BB Mishra. The committee will have all investigative powers, including search and seizure of relevant documents and recording evidence, but cannot carry out arrests. They will be provided with assistance from one senior police officer each from Mumbai, Chennai and Delhi, as the committee had requested. One former cricketer "of repute and integrity", as requested, will be chosen by the Mudgal committee in consultation with Mishra. The chairman and the members of the probe committee will be compensated with Rs 1 lakh per working day, and all other expenses will be borne by the BCCI.
The choice of Mishra as head of the investigation team over the Mudgal panel's request for former CBI special director ML Sharma came about due to "objections made on the behalf of BCCI and N Srinivasan". Mishra is currently the deputy director general, Narcotics Control Bureau in New Delhi and is an IPS officer from the 1983 batch of the Assam-Meghalaya cadre. Mishra and the three police officers form the investigative team "at the disposal" of the Mudgal committee. They will "have the powers to investigate, require attendance of witnesses, the power to search and the power to seize... except the power to arrest and the source of these powers of investigation will be this order passed by the court".
The two-man bench of Justice Patnaik and Justice FM Ibrahim Kalifullah also ordered that "all concerned persons including the BCCI, Mr N Srinivasan and the cricket players" co-operate with the investigation. "In case of difficulty", the Mudgal committee can "apply" to the court for "necessary orders for the purpose of completing the investigation".
The court has turned down BCCI's request to appoint a completely new panel following its contention that the Mudgal committee's findings were "erroneous". In the order, Justice AK Patnaik said, the allegations against the 13 persons, including Srinivasan, "should be investigated by the Justice Mudgal committee". The reason given was that "if a new Probe committee is entrusted to inquire into the allegations, there is a likelihood of the allegations being leaked to the public", saying that the leaking would "damage the reputation of the 13 persons beyond repair".
Sunil Gavaskar and Shivlal Yadav are to continue in their respective interim roles until any further orders.
The BCCI counsel Radha Rangaswamy requested the court to pass its final decision by the first week of August, but the request was declined. The BCCI's annual general elections take place at the end of September while the next hearing in connection with IPL corruption.
The court's view on Srinivasan's presence in ICC meetings and his assumption of his expected role as ICC chairman was not clear. It is understood that BCCI's counsel approached the bench after the order was read out, seeking permission for Srinivasan to attend ICC meetings and BCCI's next AGM, but the court said no further order was going to be passed. The petitioner Aditya Verma sees this as a restriction on Srinivasan's presence in the ICC, but the exact legal implications could not be determined.
The case dates back to June 2013, when the Cricket Association of Bihar (CAB) secretary 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.