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'In-house panel's verdict won't stand Judicial scrutiny'

Published: 30th May 2013 09:06 AM  |   Last Updated: 30th May 2013 10:21 AM   |  A+A-

Justice T Jayaram Chouta, a member of the panel constituted by the BCCI to investigate alleged spot- and match-fixing in the IPL, on Wednesday said he had no idea about its terms of reference.

“They sought my consent and I gave it. There is no official communication after this. We can take up the probe only after getting an official communication and terms of reference for investigation,” Justice Chouta, who stays in the coastal city of Mangalore, told Express over phone.

“It is difficult to say how long the probe will last,” he said. However, he added that he was initially hesitant to accept the assignment, as he had several pending personal matters to attend to, “but they said that it needs just two months of time after which I accepted”.

Saying he was surprised to get a call from the BCCI, Justice Chouta said he does not personally know BCCI chief N Srinivasan. “I have never heard any cases related to him, India Cements, BCCI or the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association,” he said.

Questions have been raised over the validity of the panel and whether the internal investigation would pass legal scrutiny.

Justice Chouta seeks to quell them. “As far as I am concerned, nobody can influence me. Even if he (Srinivasan) comes, I don’t think so. I will work independently and act according to the Constitution,” he said.

He added that the commission would not ask Srinivasan to step down.

“We will not ask Srinivasan to step down. If he wants, he can step down but it is not in our purview to ask him to quit,” Justice Chouta said.

Fellow panel member Justice R Balasubramanian claimed that the inquiry would be “free and fair”.

“If you believe me as a free and fair person, I should be fair,” he said, when asked whether the inquiry will be impartial.

He too claimed he had never handled any case of India Cements either as a lawyer or as a judge of the Madras High Court.

Eyewash

Despite the judges claiming they would be impartial, experts raised questions over the credibility of the probe panel.

Justice K Chandru, a retired judge of the Madras High Court, said, “It is an eyewash.”

“It (the panel) should have credibility. It is an in-house inquiry and will have no legal value. It will stand the legal test if it is constituted by the government or following court orders. Or, BCCI president N Srinivasan should step down, paving the way for a fair inquiry.

“Without these things, it will only be an eyewash,” Justice Chandru said.

The Judges

Panel member Justice R Balasubramanian hails from coastal Cuddalore. He was born on August 16, 1945 and appointed judge of the Madras High Court on December 19, 1996. Before that he was a lawyer.

At present, he is practising in the Supreme Court, taking up arbitration cases.

After putting in more than a decade of service on the bench, he retired in 2007. In the process, he settled nearly 71,000 cases.

An athlete, he has a passion for basketball and ball badminton.

Justice T Jayaram Chouta, 76, belongs to the Bunt community of (earlier) Dakshina Kannada district of Karnataka. He started his career as a criminal advocate and later served as State Public Prosecutor for about a year.

He was appointed as Karnataka High Court judge in January 1994, where he served for a couple of weeks before being transferred to the Madras High Court. He retired from the High Court in August 1999.

After retirement, Justice Chouta was appointed president of the Karnataka State Consumer Redressal Commission in November 1999. He held the position for five years and retired at the age of 65 in 2004.

An avid shuttle badminton player in his heyday, Justice Chouta had won the national advocates’ championship. His two sons Sandip, an engineer, and Sandesh, a practicing advocate, were State badminton champions.



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