Srinivasan promises fair investigation
BCCI president N Srinivasan has promised a fair investigation by a three-member commission, which will include a person independent of the board, into the charges against Gurunath Meiyappan, the CSK official and Srinivasan's son-in-law who has been arrested, and the three Rajasthan Royals players allegedly involved in spot-fixing. Srinivasan said he would not be part of the commission and would not be part of its appointment or work.
Srinivasan said the commission would comprise an independent member and two of the following people: IPL chairman Rajiv Shukla, BCCI vice-president Arun Jaitley, BCCI treasurer Ajay Shirke, board secretary Sanjay Jagdale, and former India captain and commentator Ravi Shastri. This commission, Srinivasan said, would be responsible for investigating and deciding whether Gurunath was an owner of the Super Kings franchise.
Gurunath had been part of the Super Kings table at IPL auctions, at team owners meetings with other franchises, present near the team dug-out and at post-match presentation ceremonies. His Twitter account bio said he was the "team principal" and several articles on the franchise website referred to him as "owner," as did his IPL accreditation. However, when Srinivasan was confronted by this question, his answer was evasive and ambiguous.
"We have appointed a commission and in my statement I said the commission will determine this aspect also, and he [Gurunath] has been travelling with the team, he's been enthusiastic, fine," Srinivasan said. "What his role was, whether it transcended any rule … I have already read in a statement saying that the commission that is appointed will also deal with it. So I don't want to say anything because there is an inquiry commission that will go into it. I am not going to sit and explain to you what his role was. India Cements, I understand, has already issued a statement on what his role was and what his role was not … So I don't think it is necessary for me to go further on this."
When questioned again on Gurunath's involvement with the Super Kings, Srinivasan said: "He [Gurunath] did not have any role at all. In fact, he never visited the office of the CSK. But he would go, he was enthusiastic. Let the commission find out. You asked me a question, I gave you a reply."
Given that two of the three members of the commission are going to be people with close links to the BCCI, Srinivasan was then asked about its ability to act objectively. His response was indignant. "You cannot presume that people in the board cannot act fairly or properly," he said. "That is the implication of your query, which I do not agree with. I am not going to be involved but there will be an independent person so it's not like the board only will be involved, there will be an independent person."
Srinivasan was speaking in Kolkata, four hours before the start of the IPL final. He began addressing a packed room of reporters by saying the last few days had been difficult for him as a father and father-in-law, but said his actions would be nothing but professional.
"I sit here as president of the BCCI and put aside all personal feelings. I can assure you that I will not shirk from my duty however difficult it may be," Srinivasan said. "The BCCI will act without fear or favour to investigate, and if the circumstances warrant, punish any player, match official, team management or franchise that have breached BCCI or IPL regulations.
"The disciplinary procedure under the operational rules shall be initiated and a commission, including at least one member who is entirely independent of the BCCI, will be formed to adjudicate whether Mr Gurunath is in breach of operational rules … the management of the other franchise Rajasthan Royals will also be subject to the same procedure.
"I am not part of this commission. I will not play any role in its appointment, deliberations or decisions. There has been a lot of media comment on clause 11.3 of the franchise agreement and whether Mr. Gurunath is an owner of the franchise. It is for this commission to look into this. The BCCI is very concerned by the allegations that have been made against the IPL, whether those relate to betting or spot fixing. As I have said on a number of occasions, the BCCI will act swiftly and sternly if the allegations are proven."
Srinivasan went on to stress on the principles of natural justice, that people are innocent until proven guilty, and accused the media of overstepping boundaries in their reporting of the issue. "Persons who have been suspended by the BCCI, known defaulters, fugitives from the Indian justice system and other vested interests keen to discredit me and the BCCI, have indulged in a smear campaign in the last few days. The unfair attack has been relentless. The TV news channels have been carrying unverifiable statements devoid of truth.
"An illustration of this type of news would be that there is going to be a divorce within the BCCI. I wish to ensure the cricketing world that this is completely untrue and that there is unity in the BCCI. I have not been asked by anybody to resign. To the contrary, my support is complete, and I refuse to yield to unfair and motivated attacks. I intend to continue my duties as president of the BCCI. It was trial by media for me, you know. If you saw the newspapers, TV channels the only thing they were discussing was my resignation."