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May 22, 2014
The Srinivasan saga
The Supreme Court has declined N Srinivasan's plea to be reinstated as the BCCI president for non-IPL affairs. The court has ruled it will not interfere with an earlier order that had asked Srinivasan to stand aside as board chief for the duration of the investigation into alleged corruption in the IPL.*
Justice Balbir Singh Chauhan, who heard the matter, asked Srinivasan's lawyer to appeal to the same bench that had passed the earlier order. Srinivasan had also filed an affidavit of urgency stating that by the time the court sits next on this matter as scheduled, in September, his term as president of the BCCI will have come to an end and "no purpose would, therefore, be served even if the aforesaid restriction is removed".
The appeal refers to the sealed envelope submitted to the court by the Justice Mudgal Committee, which includes names of persons who need further investigation, and states that none of the other 12 persons named there have been restricted from functioning in the IPL. "It is only the applicant [Srinivasan] who is having to face the stigma of restriction from functioning as the president of the BCCI" despite no charges having been established, the petition said.
The appeal also stated that the order to restrain Srinivasan from functioning as the BCCI president was passed "without taking into consideration that there is no material whatsoever on the record to substantiate the allegations of betting and/or spot-fixing against the applicant or even of non-cooperation with the probe panel" constituted by the court. It called the order "inessential", and pointed out that the court had itself refused to form an opinion against Srinivasan.
Contending that his "unceremonious exclusion" from discharging even the remaining non-IPL 2014 related functions was "too drastic a step and extremely harsh," Srinivasan, however, said he had no objection to Gavaskar's appointment and continuation to function as the BCCI president for IPL 2014.
The court's view so far, though, has been that a fair probe into the charges against Srinivasan and others would not be possible while Srinivasan was the board president. Before passing its first order on March 26, Justice AK Patnaik had told BCCI's counsel: "Though there is no definite finding in the report in the sealed cover, the allegations are so serious they require further investigation, which the BCCI can't do on its own and it has to be done by an outside agency. That's why we are saying that Mr. Srinivasan must step down for a fair probe."
The appeal also referred to the potential for "adverse impact on the career prospects of the applicant in future" if the order was not modified. Srinivasan is set to become the ICC president in July, but the petitioner in this case, Aditya Verma of the unrecognised Cricket Association of Bihar (CAB), has been pleading that a man who has been asked to stay away from BCCI affairs should not be allowed to represent the body at the ICC. The court has not, however, expressed its views on this issue. It is understood after the last order was read out on May 16, BCCI's counsel approached the bench, 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.
This is the second time in the last two months that Srinivasan has sought a similar relief. In an affidavit filed on April 15, he had said he was "highly aggrieved by the unfair and unsubstantiated allegations" filed by the CAB against him. Turning down his appeal, the court for the first time revealed contents of the sealed enveloped saying Srinivasan's was the 13th name among "very important personalities in cricket", and that there were 12 allegations against him. Justice Patnaik was blunt in pulling up Srinivasan when he said, "It seems that Mr Srinivasan has not taken the allegations seriously."
The case dates back to June 2013, when 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.
*May 22, 0632 GMT. The story was updated to reflect the Supreme Court's decision
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