The damning revelation of a top player-bookie nexus by former Narcotics Control Bureau head BB Misra, who was probing the fixing allegations under the Justice Mukul Mudgal commission, should leave the cricketing world worried. It is the first time that the police officer assisting the probe into fixing allegations against Chennai Super Kings team official Gurunath Meiyappan has come on record and told the Indian Express a top Indian player was one of the key suspects. He could not finish his probe against the player conclusively for want of time.
While speaking to this columnist, Mr Misra said that he had mentioned this in the report he submitted to the Supreme Court in a sealed envelope, the contents of which have been widely speculated upon but never been revealed so far.
It is clear from these new facts that the betting and fixing scandal that rocked the IPL and led finally to the Justice Lodha reforms of the BCCI’s constitution may be just the tip of the iceberg. Misra, the upright 1983 batch Indian Police Service officer who investigated the Bihar fodder scam against Lalu Prasad Yadav and was also part of the Supreme Court-monitored probe against former CBI chief Ranjit Sinha, has made it very clear that the player had links with a bookie. The bookie had agreed to confront the player in Misra’s presence but developed cold feet at the last moment and refused to do so. Misra had collected enough evidence that made him suspect the player and he mentions in his report that more time and resources were needed to probe these links further.
It is surprising that the Supreme Court, which was given this report in 2014, did not deem it necessary to act on Misra’s suggestion for a further probe. According to Justice Lodha, his panel had access to the report but their brief was limited to probing the two IPL teams — Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals — and suggesting structural reforms in the board’s functioning. Therefore, they did not go into the details of that “secret” report filed by Misra .
However, Justice Lodha does agree that this is a very grave issue and since the Committee of Administrators headed by Vinod Rai is empowered enough, they can on their own order a full-fledged probe. “They have their own anti-corruption unit for this purpose and if they feel the need for help from government agencies, they can move the court to seek their direction,” he says.
This indeed is a serious issue and unless a full-fledged probe is ordered, the spectre of fixing will continue to haunt Indian cricket. The CoA, which has been very proactive in administrative matters, needs to act against the menace of “fixing” that keeps surfacing from time to time.
This is not something which their own anti-corruption unit or the ICC’s anti-corruption unit can handle on its own. The bookie-player nexus is an international problem and unless official agencies are involved, it would be almost impossible to get to the truth. The Supreme Court has succeeded in setting up a new constitution of the BCCI, to make it more accountable and professional. It is time to show the same will and intent to cleanse this fixing menace.