The Supreme Court's naming of four key individuals - ICC chairman and sidelined BCCI president N Srinivasan, IPL chief operating officer Sundar Raman, Chennai Super Kings official Gurunath Meiyappan and Rajasthan Royals co-owner Raj Kundra - in connection with a report into the IPL 2013 spot-fixing case was another step forward in the investigation of corruption. ESPNcricinfo explains what today's step means and where could this lead to in the near future.
What happened in the court today? What do the Supreme Court notices mean?
Another slow, methodical step in the IPL 2013 corruption case. An interim order from the Supreme Court special bench consisting of two judges TS Thakur and FM Kalifullah has asked four individuals - N Srinivasan, Gurunath Meiyappan, Sundar Raman and Raj Kundra - to respond to findings related to them in the Mudgal Committee report.
The Mudgal commission, appointed by the Supreme Court to conduct a fair probe into the IPL corruption case, submitted its first report in February 2014 which was made public. Along with the report, the court was given a sealed envelope containing the names of 13 individuals, whose role in IPL corruption case needed, the committee recommended, to be investigated further. The court revealed that one of the names in the sealed envelope list was that of N Srinivasan. In May, the Mudgal Committee was given greater investigative powers by the court and appointed a team of police officers to carry out further investigations into the allegations contained in the sealed envelope. It is this second, more detailed and thorough phase of the Mudgal committee investigation which came up before the court on Friday. After reading through the report, the court has asked four "non-playing actors in the drama" to respond to the findings of the Mudgal committee.
What is the next step?
The four individuals have been issued notices. Portions of the report which feature the names of players have been "redacted" i.e. blacked out and the report has been given to the lawyers of the four individuals concerned as well as the opposition counsel. They have been given four days to respond and the arguments will resume before the special bench on November 24. The four individuals named will have to present their cases separately before the judges, with counter arguments from their opposition. Once the arguments are completed, and it could take more than one hearing for that to happen, the court will announce its decision into the matter and if it so deems fit, issue an order. The court order once issued cannot be challenged or revoked. There is a very good chance of this case going through into the early weeks of January 2015.
What does this mean for N Srinivasan?
To start with, an unexpected delay in his carefully-charted course to being re-elected as BCCI president. In the run-up to the court hearing, there was news put into circulation that Srinivasan's name would be cleared by the Mudgal committee. On the back of this belief, the alliances had been formed with East Zone members who were expected to nominate and support Srinivasan's name to take over as BCCI president during the voting process of its annual general meeting, expected to take place in Chennai on November 20. The BCCI elections had already been postponed, in order to ensure that by the time the Mudgal committee report was out in early November, the Supreme Court would allow him to resume his BCCI duties. Now that the elections and the AGM are delayed yet again, it will mean a re-evaluation of the environment around him. In about two weeks, Srinivasan, apart from dealing with the Mudgal committee "findings", will have to check whether the political climate around his candidacy has changed. Any distinct signs or hints of growing opposition will indicate his time is up. If there are no challengers to him, however, he may have to wait through a few more postponements as the case may take a a considerable amount of time to conclude.
Will anyone ever be convicted?
This is not a criminal case, this is a public interest litigation filed by a rival body, the Cricket Association of Bihar (CAB) which set in motion this prolonged legal battle. The heaviest "punishment" that can be meted out will come in the form of a court order pertaining to the IPL case in regards to officials' own role in the IPL's case and the status of teams involved. While the country's law against betting is archaic and contains minimal punishment, the draft of a new bill pertaining to the Prevention of Sporting Fraud Act, has been shunting between government ministries, waiting for cabinet and then parliamentary approval.
What is the best-case scenario for the two IPL teams who feature in the case?
The teams involved in the IPL 2013 corruption scandal are Chennai Super Kings, whose official Gurunath Meiyappan is charged in a case by the Mumbai Police, and Rajasthan Royals, whose co-owner Raj Kundra was questioned by the Delhi Police. Had there been swift and appropriate action in May 2013 against team officials being questioned in connection to betting within the IPL - either, a temporary suspension, fines, docking points - things would not have come to this pass. At the moment one clause of the IPL franchise agreement recommends termination. Clause 11.3 (c) says the agreement between the IPL and the BCCI can be terminated if: "the Franchise, any Franchise Group Company and/or any owner acts in any way which has a material adverse effect upon the reputation or standing of the League, BCCI-IPL, BCCI, the Franchise, the team (or any other team in the League) and/or the game of cricket." There is no definition of 'material adverse effect' but a Supreme Court case that has lasted for over a year, it can be argued, could fit the bill.