Srinivasan's election in jeopardy
The Supreme Court has struck a huge blow to N Srinivasan's role in Indian cricket by effectively asking the sidelined BCCI president to choose between his role in the board and his ownership of the Chennai Super Kings franchise. Srinivasan has been barred from contesting in the board's elections - which the court ordered to be held in the next six weeks - until he gives up his commercial interest in Chennai Super Kings franchise.
In a wide-ranging and seminal judgement the two-man bench of Justice TS Thakur and FMI Kalifullah went to the core of its immediate remit - assessing the legality of a BCCI committee to investigate charges of corruption in the 2013 spot-fixing case. It struck down the BCCI's controversial constitutional amendment that allowed board officials to have commercial interests in the IPL and the Champions League T20, calling it "the true villain of the situation at hand." This amendment, inserted into the BCCI constitution in 2008 after the IPL had been formed, had made it possible for Srinivasan to be a BCCI official and a franchise owner.
The court stated any charges against Srinivasan's involvement in a cover-up could not be proved, but it did say that Srinivasan had "created" a conflict of interest situation in the 2013 IPL case after Super Kings had entered the picture. The court said, "no rule can permit conflict of interest".
The bench also said it held Gurunath Meiyappan and Raj Kundra to be officials of Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals, respectively, and found them guilty of betting during the 2013 IPL.
The court did not pronounce any sanction on the two officials or the franchises; instead it appointed an independent three-man committee - comprising former judges of the Supreme Court of India - that has been asked to conclude its proceedings within a period of six months.
The committee, to be headed by former Chief Justice of India RM Lodha and include Ashok Bhan and RV Raveendran, will also "examine and make suitable recommendations to the BCCI for such reforms in its practices and procedures and such amendments in the Memorandum of Association, Rules and Regulations as may be considered necessary and proper." Basically, it can rewrite the BCCI's constitution though it might not go that far.
The committee has also been asked to investigate the "activities" of IPL Chief Operating Officer Sundar Raman. The order said his role could be examined, with the help of the Mudgal Committee's investigating team. The order says that while the investigating team did "not indict" Raman in clear words, he had remained, "totally inert" in the matter instead of "taking suitable action warranted under the circumstances."
In another declaration that could have far-reaching consequences on the conduct of the BCCI, the court said that while the BCCI was a private body, it performed a public function and was therefore amenable to judicial law and review.
The BCCI welcomed the judgment and said in a statement that it has "put to rest the uncertainty", while IPL's chairman Ranjib Biswal said the league was ready for any eventuality, even if the two franchises were scrapped. It is believed that the IPL auction will be held in Bangalore at some point between February 6 and 9.
The judgement covered 138 pages and the bench took close to 90 minutes reading out some of its key observations to a packed court room on Thursday afternoon.