India Cements Ltd, the owner of Chennai Super Kings, has said that even if it is proved that Gurunath Meiyappan was a team official, the franchise cannot be held guilty for violation of any of IPL rules by him. In an affidavit filed in the Supreme Court on Friday, R Srinivasan, a signatory of India Cements, said that franchise agreement would have been violated only if the franchise or a group company of the franchise owner or an owner had committed any wrongdoing.
Even assuming that Meiyappan was a team official, the affidavit said, "by no stretch of imagination" could he be equated to an owner of the franchise and hence the franchise agreement cannot be cancelled, as demanded by the petitioner Aditya Verma, the secretary of the unrecognised Cricket Association of Bihar (CAB).
"Assuming without admitting that Mr. Gurunath Meiyappan was a "Team Official" of Chennai Super Kings, the demands made by the petitioner for disenfranchising the team for violation of Clause 11.3 of the Franchise Agreement is wholly misplaced since that provision deals only with acts by the franchisee itself or by a group company of the franchisee or the "Owner" of the franchisee. The expression "Owner" has also been defined in the same Agreement as the person "who is the ultimate Controller of the Franchisee." Under no stretch of imagination can Mr. Gurunath Meiyappan be characterized as a person who is the "Ultimate Controller" of this Respondent Company."
Even if the Mudgal committee noted in its final report submitted to the court on November 1 that it had indicted Meiyappan only after scientifically analysing his voice samples from phone conversations with an individual "acting as a go-between" with bookies, Srinivasan said "material on the basis of which" the finding was arrived at was not provided to them.
"Mr. Gurunath Meyiappan is neither a shareholder, nor a director nor an employee and has not drawn any salary, honorarium or compensation of any kind from Chennai Super Kings or from India Cements Ltd. However, the material on the basis of which the Probe Committee has arrived at this finding that he is a 'Team Official",has not been discussed in the Report or disclosed to this Respondent," Srinivasan said.
Calling the Super Kings as the most popular team in IPL, Srinivasan warned that penalising the franchise could have "disastrous consequences" on the entire league. "This Respondent is entitled to Due Process both under the Operational Rules and the Franchise Agreement. If any orders are passed as against this Respondent it could have disastrous consequences not only for this Respondent but also for the entire League, the cricketers involved, third parties such as sponsors, apart from millions of its fans, Chennai Super Kings being arguably the most valuable and most popular team in the Indian Premier League."
Srinivasan also asked the court to re-instate the officials from India Cements who were part of various sub-committees at the BCCI. The court had asked a directive in March asking all India Cements employees performing dual roles to be removed till further notice. "Now, that the Report (Mudgal) has been filed and no adverse findings have been made as against this Respondent (India Cements) or its employees, it is just and proper that the employees of this Respondent be permitted to discharge their duties if any assigned to them by the BCCI."