A two-member panel has found "no evidence of any wrongdoing" against Raj Kundra, co-owner of Rajasthan Royals, the Rajasthan Royals franchise, and India Cements, the owner of Chennai Super Kings. The panel, comprising former high-court judges, was formed to look into the involvement of the owners of two IPL franchises in corruption during the tournament.
The BCCI working committee met in Kolkata on Sunday and Niranjan Shah, a BCCI vice-president, said that the report submitted by the two retired judges, T Jayaram Chouta and R Balasubramanian, will now be forwarded to the IPL governing council.
"There is no evidence of any wrongdoing found by the judges against Raj Kundra, India Cements and Rajasthan Royals," Shah said. "The report will now be forwarded to the IPL governing council which will take a final decision when it meets on August 2 in New Delhi."
Meanwhile, Joint commissioner of police (crime) Himanshu Roy said, "The BCCI had written to us asking for the investigating officer to depose before the board. We wrote back a month ago, seeking clarification on the legal provisions of their request. But they have not replied."
The investigation into Gurunath Meiyappan, a top Super Kings official and BCCI president N Srinivasan's son-in-law, India Cements, Kundra and Rajasthan Royals' owner Jaipur IPL Pvt Ltd was sanctioned after Meiyappan was arrested by Mumbai Police and Kundra reportedly confessed to betting in IPL matches.
When asked if India Cements - the company of which Srinivasan is managing director and vice-president - has been given a clean chit in the report, Jagmohan Dalmiya, the interim BCCI chief, said: "The final call will be taken in the IPL governing council meeting. The governing council will examine the report and accordingly will take a decision. The copy of the report will be made public in due course."
Dalmiya also said that Srinivasan, who stepped aside from his duties till the investigation was complete as it included the probing of his son-in-law, will decide who will chair the governing council's meeting on August 2. The question arose because Rajiv Shukla had resigned as the IPL governing council's chairman on June 1. However, Dalmiya said he had not accepted that resignation. "I have requested him to continue," he said. "I have not accepted Shukla's resignation."
He conceded that BCCI Anti-Corruption and Security Unit chief Ravi Sawani's findings on the Rajasthan Royals players accused of spot-fixing was discussed on Sunday, but since one of the three players involved - Ajit Chandila - was still in police custody, he could not be spoken to and so the probe is as yet incomplete.
"We will wait for some time and then proceed accordingly," Dalmiya said. "Sawani is currently on leave because of his son's marriage. Let him come back."
Regarding the controversy over MS Dhoni's conflict of interest because of his involvement with player management company Rhiti Sports, Dalmiya said "nothing will be swept under the carpet".
"I had said nothing will be swept under the carpet, many were asking what happened to that," he said. "We have changed our mode of working. The players will have to declare their interest in sports management companies."
By Sharda Ugra
The BCCI's working committee meeting in Kolkata has turned an important step of "Operation Clean-Up" into something resembling "Operation Cover-Up".
BCCI vice-president Niranjan Shah said the two-member probe panel had found "no evidence of wrongdoing" against Raj Kundra, co-owner of Rajasthan Royals, and India Cements, the owner of Chennai Super Kings. Interim chief Jagmohan Dalmiya announced that the panel's report would be formally tabled at another meeting five days later in Delhi.
These facts spin out a series of questions.
Does "no evidence of wrongdoing" erase the fact that Gurunath Meiyappan, who went from being "team principal" of Chennai Super Kings to an "enthusiast" and happens to be the son-in-law of BCCI president N Srinivasan, was arrested and questioned by Mumbai Police, and that Kundra was called in for questioning by Delhi Police?
The arrest of a top-ranking team official and the questioning of a team owner about his association with bookmakers are not routine for any self-respecting sporting league. The damage caused to the IPL's credibility by these events is as much of a "wrongdoing" as the arrest of and allegations against the three Rajasthan Royals players. Both Gurunath and Kundra were in positions of authority, with access to inside information.
The next question that arises is with regards to the still-amorphous nature of the two-member probe panel that was set up to investigate the Rajasthan and Chennai honchos. To begin with, its appointment took place without a formal meeting of the IPL governing council. After the resignation of BCCI secretary Sanjay Jagdale, who was originally named on the panel, it was neither disbanded nor was there a third member chosen to replace him. It is not known whether either Gurunath or Kundra deposed before the panel and who else was questioned. Had help been sought from the Mumbai or Delhi Police, whose investigations had a two-month head-start over BCCI's own probe panel? The bazaar says the panel did approach Mumbai Police, but were refused help. Mumbai Police says that it had asked the panel a question, but nobody replied. So, what were the panel's questions and where did their answers come from?
Two conclusions emerged from Kolkata: Rajasthan Royals will benefit from the fact that they share the dock with Chennai Super Kings, the IPL's best-connected and most powerful team. If Super Kings owners are to be spared, regardless of the arrest of a key official, so will Royals'. Even though the Delhi Police chief said that Kundra had confessed to betting in the IPL. Secondly, the probe panel's report is now in the hands of the BCCI's one-man disciplinary committee, Arun Jaitley. The other two members are Srinivasan, whose company India Cements is under investigation, and Shah.
The report will then pass on to the IPL's governing council, which will meet on August 2 in Delhi, home turf for Jaitley and Rajiv Shukla, whose resignation as IPL chairman, Dalmiya said, has not been accepted.
With the IPL's standing eroded, the ground beneath the BCCI's feet is merely becoming shifting sand.