CHENNAI: The much-awaited verdict in the IPL spot-fixing and betting case is expected on Monday. Following the Mudgal Commission’s inquiry into the controversial developments, the Supreme Court has made several stern observations, but there has been no order yet. With the BCCI’s annual general meeting to be held this month, people concerned are expecting a final call.
Among those waiting with bated breath is N Srinivasan. Despite being forced to vacate the BCCI president’s post last year, the Tamil Nadu strongman has handled board equations efficiently and is expecting to get re-elected. Even though his loyalists are confident of a clearance, an adverse court order can be the only impediment on his way. Petitioner Aditya Verma of the Cricket Association of Bihar too is putting his cards in place and getting ready for the big day.
The Srinivasan camp thinks the board’s readiness to form an independent committee to punish those guilty would turn things in their favour. “We’ve put forward our stand and communicated to the court that we are ready to form our own inquiry panel to probe the incidents surrounding Gurunath (Meiyappan) and Raj Kundra. We think the court will take into consideration these things,” a top board official said.
Verma, on the other hand, has his weapons ready. “BCCI has set aside an exigency fund of `330.32 crore to meet the expenses of this case. This, according to BCCI officials, is part of the `1,150.67 crore the BCCI has invested in fixed deposits. When the court had stopped Srinivasan to function in the BCCI, how did the finance committee approve the huge sum? Who has given Srinivasan the right and power to waste such amount of money, earmarked for the development of the game, to save his own skin?” said Verma in a statement.
The future of Chennai Super Kings can be another concern for Srinivasan. His lawyers have accepted that Meiyapan is indeed a team official after claims from the boss that the person accused of betting was just an ‘enthusiast’. “We would like to know who exactly is footing the bills of the court cases for Gurunath Meyaippan for all these days,” said Verma. Despite being confident, Srinivasan’s loyalists have sounded worried about CSK and it remains to be seen if any order against the franchise complicates matters for its owner, whose roles as BCCI president and team supremo has stoked a big debate on his conflicts of interest.
The timing of MS Dhoni’s decision to quit Tests has also been questioned, although this topic is unlikely to affect proceedings in the court. However, Verma sees a connection between the surprise announcement and the court case. “Srinivasan is the man behind Dhoni’s surprise decision in the middle of a series. The reason behind the retirement is Srinivasan wanted to prove there is no any alliance between Dhoni and him. “I would like to take this opportunity to bring to your notice about how the sidelined president of the BCCI, also the managing director of India Cements, is misleading the Supreme Court on matters relating to his franchise Chennai Super Kings,” alleged Verma.
The top developments in the IPL fixing case
June 2013: Aditya Verma, secretary of the Cricket Association of Bihar (CAB), files a PIL in Bombay High Court raising charges of a conflict of interest in the Board’s two-member inquiry panel probing corruption in IPL. The Bombay HC declared the probe “illegal”. The BCCI and the CAB went to the Supreme Court against the Bombay High Court order. Verma’s lawyers said the Bombay court could have suggested a fresh mechanism to investigate the charges of corruption.
October 2013: The Supreme Court appointed a three-member committee, headed by former High Court judge Mukul Mudgal. The panel included additional solicitor general L Nageswara Rao and senior advocate Nilay Dutta. The SS wanted the panel to conduct an independent inquiry into the allegations of corruption against Srinivasan’s son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan, India Cements, and Rajasthan Royals team owner Raj Kundra. The team was also asked to probe allegations of betting and spot-fixing in IPL and the involvement of players.
February 2014: The Mudgal Committee submitted two reports to the Supreme Court, one submitted jointly by Mudgal and Rao and one by Dutta. They also filed a sealed envelope containing 13 names, including Srinivasan’s, against whom there were “unsubstantiated” charges of corruption.
March 2014: Supreme Court suspends Srinivasan as BCCI president. In its interim order, the court says Srinivasan will be replaced by former cricketers Sunil Gavaskar and Shivlal Yadav. Gavaskar was given charge of IPL affairs while Yadav was entrusted with non-IPL issues.
May 2014: Following the panel’s initial report, the SC gave the Mudgal committee greater powers to investigate the contents of the sealed envelope. Assisted by senior IPS officer BB Mishra and Mumbai and Chennai police among others, the panel got greater investigative powers for search and seizure of relevant documents.
September 2014: The Mudgal panel seeks a two-month extension to complete its probe. The Supreme Court allows the extension. BCCI lawyers want Srinivasan to be reinstated since the Board AGM was due and the Bench refused”
November 2014: Mudgal panel submits its final report to the special SC Bench in a sealed cover on November 3.
December 2014: The apex court put the onus on Srinivasan and his counsel Kapil Sibal, saying they needed to “lift the veil” on the issue of conflict of interest. Sibal sought to defend Srinivasan, saying a large number of other eminent people like Sunil Gavaskar, Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and Anil Kumble were similarly placed in conflict of interest situation.