Corruption in the IPL May 31, 2013

BCCI shying away from governance - experts

Several corporate governance and legal experts believe that BCCI officials' repeated calls to "let the law take its course" in the IPL corruption scandal is an abdication of administrative responsibility masked by a falling back on the legal process.

TV Mohandas Pai, former board member of Indian software giant Infosys and chairman of Manipal Global Education Services, says that in the best practices of corporate governance an organisation would "hold itself out to be transparent and well-governed and then the legal action is taken." In the current situation, by Pai's standard, this best practice required Srinivasan to first stand down as BCCI president and then allow the three-member commission set up by the Indian board to take its decision against his son-in-law.

In professionally-run corporations, Pai - who speaks from experience as a former chief financial officer of Infosys - said in an email to ESPNcricinfo, "administration action is first taken to clear the ground for investigation so that the truth is found out."

In Srinivasan's case, Pai said, "the basic charge here is that an insider, Gurunath, leaked confidential information to outsiders, traded on the same and benefited/lost money." As an insider, Gurunath, was "facilitated in terms of access by the president Srinivasan."

Even if he was merely an "enthusiast," Gurunath was seen in the dugouts and Pai said, "(had) held himself out openly in the presence of the president as being deeply associated with Chennai Super Kings and for all purposes was the face of the CSK. Without this relationship he would have no position and no access. Even if there is no direct charge against Srinivasan, by his conduct he has been compromised."

Lawyer YP Singh, a former officer with the Indian police and in the Central Bureau of Investigation (India's federal investigative agency), said it was necessary that a clear distinction be made between legal and administration action and the level of proof required by both.

Singh, who has dealt with high-profile cases of financial fraud, said legal action required "beyond reasonable doubt" before issuing a judgement and finding a person guilty. "You need beyond reasonable doubt to send someone to jail.

Administrative action does not require 'beyond reasonable doubt'. Administrative action can be taken at any time." It required, he said, what the legal community referred to as, "the preponderance of probability." (The "degree" or the "likelihood" of the incident taking place is a bit lower as compared to beyond reasonable doubt.)

During his Kolkata press conference, Srinivasan's defence of his refusal to stand down hinged on the fact that he had committed no offence and there was a legal process in place. Through this defence, Singh said, the BCCI was trying to take administrative action, "after the investigation is complete ... that is legally impossible. A thorough legal investigation takes years."

In such a situation, the administrative action required by the BCCI should have been thorough and speedy. To redress the BCCI's shortcomings as of now in this case, Pai said, "Srinivasan would need to resign or step down from his position or take a sabbatical, hand over power to a committee of directors who would handle the investigation and if the investigation by independent third party finds nothing against the president, then he can easily redeem his dented honour."

Corporate India rarely speaks ill of its peers, but there are suggestions that in this case Srinivasan, a successful corporate figure in Tamil Nadu, has trapped himself in an untenable situation. "As you rise in power, the standards of governance required by you have to go up," says one leader. "The enormity of the situation is dependent on the person involved in a wrong doing." It is why offences committed by the CEO of a firm as opposed to a junior-executive have a different impact. It is "logically impossible" for Srinivasan to "retain his authority when an investigation is on because he retains the power to subvert the process."

Srinivasan has, however, chosen to stay in power by deliberately detaching the administrative action required at a time like this from the Board and attaching it to the legal process. The BCCI has been unable to prevent him from doing so. Pai said, "By doing what he is doing Srinivasan has shown himself in poor light and BCCI has shown itself to be an institution of cronies."

Bringing out the "innocent till proven guilty" card often diverts from another vital truth. An individual remains accused until proven innocent.

Sharda Ugra is senior editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Keith on June 1, 2013, 8:01 GMT

    This is a very sensible assessment by administrative experts. Dispassionate analysis reveals how distorted and misshapen the process pursued by President Srinivasan and condoned by BCCI cronyism has been. The legal system has been bent over backwards to serve the needs of Great Men in the Sky Boxes. This renders very hollow and cynical indeed all the talk of "natural justice" and "trial by media" emanating from such sources. If there are any cricket administrators of worth left in the sport, now is the time for them to assert themselves on behalf of what is right. Once again, it becomes clear just how much there is a need for a Cricket Constitutional Convention.

  • Dummy4 on June 1, 2013, 6:35 GMT

    Nothing new for the BCCI. They do whatever they want free from implication, as is shown time and time again when anything the ICC has implemented can be overruled by the BCCI.

    We have a sport with a governing body for a reason, hopefully so every member of cricket gets a fair go and the sport grows. Instead, it has lost the power to control the sport and been usurped by the BCCI, who sadly don't care about anyone else. And why should they? We hope for the best when it comes to power, that someone will use to to lead in the right direction. But more often than not, as it was said, power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

    It might sound dramatic but there is nothing anyone can do. Even if Srinivasan stepped down, someone else would take his place and continue to lead in the wrong directon, ignoring the FTP and making up new tournaments to monopolise the TV market and drain other countries of their players.

  • Dummy4 on June 1, 2013, 0:55 GMT

    The BCCI seems more concerned about what the other cricket countries are doing rather than getting their own backyard in order.

  • M on June 1, 2013, 0:52 GMT

    The BCCI board should have former cricketers and cricket administrators. Not politicians or owners of team. This cleansing needs to happen ASAP. There should be laws created to stop politicians and owners from getting on the board.

  • Dummy4 on May 31, 2013, 20:23 GMT

    Does any one think, Is BCCI good in governance? find answers for these questions you will figure out by your self.

    1: How good is the Indian International Cricket Schedule (Does players get enough break between tours. )

    2: On what kind of tracks does Indian first class matches (ranji, Irani tournaments).

    3: What kind of steps have been taken by BCCI to train cricketers who are interested in coaching international or domestic teams

    4: How competitive is the Indian first class league.

    5: Is IPL is a money making league or a league which helps in developing young cricketers.

    6: How Is BCCI spending money for developing Cricketers across India.

    7: BCCI produced two Icons Lalit modi and srinivasan who played significant role in destroying Indian cricket reputation.

    Answer these questions you will figure out how unfortunate India is to have BCCI which is Governing Indian cricket

  • sitaram on May 31, 2013, 15:02 GMT

    Governance, BBCI, Accountability, Cricket in India - you must be joking!!!!!! Do the fans really want to know the truth - I don't think we can handle the truth. Can't wait till the next IPL.

  • Salim on May 31, 2013, 9:18 GMT

    Let it be very clear. It is not a matter of Mr. Srinivasan's son-in-law. It is against the team he owns. The man who sat at the auctions, sat in the team dug-out, touted himself as an owner / principal of CSK is now behind bars. Had this happened with some other team, the team would have been terminated instantly. In this case, not only was the team allowed to play the finals, some very shrewd time-delaying tactic has been employed by appointing a Committee to look into the 'ownership' issue. Strange, the 'owner' of CSK has appointed a committee to look into the ownership issue of his own team. Thus, Mr. Srinivasan would be a Defendant as well as the Judge at the same time. THIS IS CONFLICT OF INTEREST.

  • Kannan on May 31, 2013, 9:12 GMT

    The issue of BCCI's governance is nothing new and was last raised vociferously when the "Lalit Modi" issue broke out.

    It's a shame that when the Indian law demands scrupulous audits and governance from Indian companies because they handle public money, the same standards have been found wanting in the administration of BCCI which is registered under the Society's Act in Tamil Nadu.

    The 30 members of the Board are themselves representative of the various State Bodies, Associations and even a Club. There is no transparency in the voting process or the number of voters and their proxy representatives who cast the vote. There is no uniformity of the structure and membership composition that determine the various state cricket associations.

    This is where the Govt has a role to play... or even the Supreme Court that can direct the BCCI to establish a clear structure that is representative from the grass-root ... a structure that is transparent, open to audit & examination!

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