New Delhi, Nov 24 (IANS) The Supreme Court Monday asked sidelined BCCI president N. Srinivasan whether he was in a position of conflict or not while being the head of the Indian cricket’s governing body and also holding a franchise in the Indian Premier League (IPL).
Srinivasan is the managing director of the India Cements which is the owner of the IPL franchise Chennai Super Kings.
“You are a person who is managing the show (BCCI). You are also having a team competing in IPL. Would it not be a conflict of interest,” asked an apex court bench of Justice T.S. Thakur and Justice Fakkir Mohamed Ibrahim Kalifulla. The court said this while observing that the IPL was BCCI’s creation.
Asked to explain the situation arising from the question of conflict of interest of Srinivasan, senior counsel Kapil Sibal, appearing for the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) president, told the court that his interest is that “My team must win”.
In further posers to Sibal, the court asked “Who constitutes the BCCI? BCCI is headed by the president. Do you mean to say that when decisions are taken by BCCI, President Srinivasan is a mute spectator and expresses no views?”
As Sibal urged the court that Srinivasan’s elections should be separated from the larger issue as there was nothing against him, the court said, “You (Srinivasan) are not involved in betting but someone connected and close to you is handling the team.”
“Please don’t go by the report alone. You may not be involved in betting, match fixing or scuttling the probe. You are assuming you have been given a clean chit. Don’t go by the (Mukul) Mudgal committee report alone. Question is whether you should at all be serving the BCCI,” the court said.
Senior counsel C.A. Sundram, representing the BCCI, said that the apex cricketing body’s working committee had representatives of 21 state level cricketing bodies and each one of them was eminent in his own right.
Justifying Srinivasan’s India Cements owning CSK, Sundram said that “IPL when started was a commercial success”. Then a whole lot of people with means could not have been blocked out from participating in the league thus saying that in those circumstances even BCCI office bearers were allowed to have the IPL franchise.
Sundaram said that cricket in India has got international recognition, suggesting that the contribution of BCCI could not over-looked.
“This recognition comes from where?” the court asked Sundaram back, adding that it comes from “over a lakh people sitting in Eden Gardens and watching the match”.
“So it becomes a mutual beneficial society. This game is a religion. Millions and millions of people are very passionate about it without any stakes or betting,” Justice Thakur said.
“If we allow what is happening then the game will be killed. What promotes the game is that it is played in true spirit of gentleman’s game. If the confidence of the people is shattered then the game goes,” Justice Thakur observed asking the BCCI counsel “if you are going to sit over the liquidation of the game”.
The court said that “the benefit of the game should go to the game and not to an individual”.
As Sundram sought to tell the court that BCCI would act on the Mudgal committee report, the court asked if someone in the BCCI is under cloud could he be entrusted to carry out the proceedings.
“You have no option but to say that you will act against the individual indicted by the report. Do you have the option to say that an official is indicted and you will not act against him? You are not doing any favour to anybody,” the court said as Sundram sought to impress that BCCI will act against those indicted by the probe committee.
The court added that in the course of the hearing on the Mudgal committee report which has exonerated Srinivasan of any betting or match fixing or scuttling probe in IPL 2013, has indicted his son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan of betting.
The court has also recorded some findings about Raj Kundra, co-owner of Rajasthan Royals.
Arguing for the petitioner Cricket Association of Bihar, senior counsel Nalini Chidambram reiterated her charge that Srinivasan was involved in the cover-up and referred to the February 2014 first report of Justice Mudgal.
The hearing will continue Tuesday.