Mudgal Committee gets two-month extension for final report

The Supreme Court has granted the Mudgal Committee a further two months to present its report on corruption in the IPL, and also ruled out allowing N Srinivasan to be reinstated as the BCCI president until the investigation is completed. The court will next hear the case on November 10.

The Mudgal Committee, represented by senior counsel Raju Ramachandran, told the special two-man bench of TS Thakur and FM Ibrahim Kalifulla that it needed two more months to complete the investigation pertaining to the IPL spot fixing case, particularly the 13 individuals whose names were mentioned in a sealed envelope handed over to the court in February this year.

While the court granted the committee the extension, the counsel for ICC chairman N Srinivasan and the BCCI asked for his reinstatement as BCCI president, because the BCCI's annual general meeting is to take place by the end of the month.

Srinivasan was represented by senior counsel Kapil Sibal and the BCCI by C A Sundaram, both arguing that Srinivasan's reinstatement was central to the BCCI being able to hold its annual general meeting with due procedure.

Sibal asked the judges if there was anything against Srinivasan in the committee's interim report, and if not, requested that he be allowed to resume functioning as BCCI president. Sundaram said the BCCI's interim president Shivlal Yadav was unaware of matters pertaining to its annual reports, which could only be passed after it was signed by the president.

The court, however, said that issues pertaining to the BCCI's annual general meeting were "not our concern" adding that, "Signing account book cannot be a ground for reinstatement." It referred to its order earlier in April, when the now retired Justice AK Patnaik stated that Srinivasan "could not come back as BCCI president as long as the probe is on." The bench also suggested to the Mudgal panel that it could, if it was considered viable, offer an interim report pertaining to the allegations against office bearers whose names featured in the sealed envelope.

With the court ruling out Srinivasan's reinstatement, the BCCI might postpone its elections beyond the usual deadline of September 30, because the law would not allow Srinivasan to contest while the investigation is still on.

According to the BCCI rulebook, the AGM has to convene before September ends with a notice period of three weeks. The board, however, could convene the meeting as per the rulebook and adjourn it until the investigation ends. There is no deadline for an adjourned AGM to be reconvened. In 2004, the AGM was deferred for three weeks with Sharad Pawar and Ranbir Singh Mahendra engaged in perhaps the fiercest-ever battle for the BCCI presidency.

It is also understood that the Mudgal investigation may now include interviewing members of the Indian team currently in England, whose names are in the sealed envelope.

The case dates back to June 2013 when Aditya Verma, secretary of the Cricket Association of Bihar (CAB), 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.

In May this year, following the panel's initial report into IPL corruption, the Supreme Court gave the Mudgal comittee greater powers to investigate the contents of the sealed envelope that it had provided India's highest court along with the report. The sealed envelope contained names and details of allegations made against 13 individuals, including Srinivasan. The committee was given assistance by former senior Indian Police Service (IPS) officer BB Mishra and greater investigative powers for search and seizure of relevant documents and the recording of evidence, though not the power to arrest. Mishra and the panel were provided with assistance from one senior police officer each from Mumbai, Chennai and Delhi, and it was the first two months of their investigation led to the panel sumbitting its interim report by the end of August.