BCCI's sidelined president N Srinivasan was given an option by the Supreme Court to choose between standing for the board election scheduled for December 17 and protecting his investment in the Chennai Super Kings IPL franchise.
During day-long hearings of the IPL 2013 corruption case in the Supreme Court case on Tuesday, the two-judge bench of Justice TS Thakur and Justice FM Kalifullah told Srinivasan they were not about to directly "address" the question of him fighting the election. "If you wish to contest as president, your investment is endangered. If you don't fight the elections, your investment is safe," they observed.
Justice Thakur said the court "did not want to take punitive action against BCCI, announce punitive measures, as we don't want to short-circuit the BCCI machinery" and asked the BCCI to "tell us what can be done to decide quantum of punishment."
The BCCI gave the court several options regarding action and the quantum of punishment against former Chennai Super Kings' team official Gurunath Meiyappan for his alleged involvement in the IPL 2013 spot-fixing scandal. The board presented these options to the court in the form of an affidavit.
The options presented to the Supreme Court at the start of the day-long hearing were:
The BCCI disciplinary committee to decide on quantum of punishment;
The court to appoint a two-member committee, independent of the BCCI;
The court to nominate members of the IPL governing council to decide on the quantum of punishment;
The court to formulate a two-member, high-powered committee of former judges to decide the punishment;
The Mudgal panel to decide on the punishment to be meted out.
The option that was discussed in detail in the court, without a decision being arrived at, focused on the nomination of a two-member, high-powered committee of former judges. The terms of reference for those judges would be whether Srinivasan's role in the entire episode was objectionable or not and whether Srinivasan and Gurunath deserved punishment.
On Monday, Kapil Sibal, Srinivasan's counsel, had also mentioned an option where Srinivasan could step aside and the BCCI [working] committee could decide on the quantum of punishment against Gurunath, but that option was not placed before the court on Tuesday.
The bench also pulled up Srinivasan for attending two working committee meetings as chief of the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association, even after standing down as BCCI president. The judges noted: "We can understand your passion for the game but not so much passion. You attended the working committee meeting as recently as three weeks ago. If you keep attending meetings then how will you stay away from the Board?"
Speaking on behalf of Srinivasan, Sibal said attending the working committee meeting "may not have been the right call… but I wasn't taking any decisions." Srinivasan was then asked, "Have you invested money in cricket only for the love of the game? Business is business." Sibal gave the court a written undertaking that Srinivasan would not take part in working committee meetings as TNCA chief.
The court told the BCCI, "you are discharging a public function. Should the principle of administrative law not govern these functions?"
The hearing will resume on Wednesday morning and Sibal is expected to continue his arguments. After that, lawyers for the IPL, Gurunath, Chennai Super Kings, Raj Kundra and Rajasthan Royals will be given 45 minutes each to make their case. The litigants, the Cricket Association of Bihar, are then expected to make their final arguments. It is possible the hearing on Wednesday could last for an entire day.