When the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) panel, appointed to inquire into the Indian Premier League (IPL) betting and spot-fixing scandal, hurriedly gave a clean chit to temporarily displaced BCCI chief N Srinivasan’s son-in-law and Chennai Super Kings shareholder, Gurunath Meiyappan, and Rajasthan Royals owner Raj Kundra, it was clear that the intention was not to bring about real accountability. The Mumbai and Delhi police have now claimed they have sufficient evidence to nail the accused in a court of law and the Bombay High Court has declared the BCCI’s probe itself “illegal”. If the appointment of the panel, whose members were reportedly handpicked at the instance of Srinivasan, was supposed to restore the board’s credibility, it has only made things worse.
The board officials’ insistence that there was no need for it to wait for completion of the police inquiry before BCCI came to a conclusion smacks of arrogance. It is an unacceptable manifestation of the culture of impunity the BCCI has cultivated since its rise as global cricket’s superpower. The BCCI has abused its independence for too long thanks to the long rope given by the government under the influence of senior politicians occupying key positions in it.
It is time the government stepped in to check the rot. It should push for early passage of the upcoming sports bill — establishing that the BCCI falls under the purview of the Right to Information Act. The board’s argument that it is a private body and thus not accountable to the act is specious as the Supreme Court has held that the functions it performs are public in nature. Justice Mukul Mudgal, who headed the committee constituted to draft the Sports Development Bill 2013, is right when he says that the BCCI will have to come under the RTI’s ambit since it uses “India” as its national team’s name. The government must assert its authority and make the BCCI open to public scrutiny. This will provide a base for litigation compelling its accountability.