Decision on Srinivasan's re-election eligibility postponed
A decision on whether N Srinivasan, the BCCI's sidelined president, will be allowed to stand for re-election on November 20 has been put off by another four days. The Supreme Court special bench studying the Mudgal committee report into betting and spot-fixing in IPL 2013 adjourned the matter till November 14, after listening to arguments by lawyers on both sides, the petitioners - the Cricket Association of Bihar (CAB) - and the defendants - the BCCI.
The Mudgal committee report had been placed before the Supreme Court on November 3, following a two-month investigation of allegations against 13 individuals, including Srinivasan, following the IPL spot-fixing crisis last year. A two-man Supreme Court special bench, comprising Justice TS Thakur and Justice FM Khalifullah, on Monday said that the court had not read the report.
There were two lines of argument discussed: first, whether Srinivasan should be allowed to contest the BCCI election given his proximity to Gurunath Meiyappan - the prime accused in Mumbai Police case into the IPL spot-fixing, who is Srinivasan's son-in-law - and, second, whether it was feasible for the Mudgal committee report to be released to the public.
Srinivasan's counsel Kapil Sibal said that if there were no conclusions on or indictment against his client, he should be allowed to contest the elections. He was counter-questioned by Justice Thakur, who pointed out the indictment of someone - Meiyappan - "close to the individual" seeking election. While Sibal asked how a relative could disqualify anyone from contesting an election - it did not happen in Parliament elections, he said - the opposing counsel Harish Salve said that Srinivasan should be liable in case he was involved in a "cover up" in the IPL case.
At one point, Justice Thakur asked counsel if they were in agreement about the report being made public. Srinivasan's counsel Sibal said making the report public did not serve any purpose as it was merely an "adjudication" and "not the gospel", and would lead to the sentiments of many being hurt. Salve, the lawyer for CAB, said it should be left to the court to decide what parts needed to be made public.
The Mudgal committee submitted a set of three documents to the court on November 3: a 35-page report on the findings and conclusions of the investigation, a report from former India captain Sourav Ganguly related to cricket matters, and a report on the details of the investigation carried out by the police officers attached to the case - senior IPS officer BB Misra, who is the deputy director general of the Narcotics Control Bureau Division, headed the investigation, which also included one police officer each from Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai.
The lawyer for the Mudgal committee, Raju Ramachandran, told the court that the 35-page Mudgal committee report did not contain names of individuals, but numbers that have been assigned to particular players who featured in the investigation. A key to these numbers, he said, would only be provided to the judges.
This specific case dates back to June 2013 when AdityaVerma, secretary of the CAB, 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 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.