The Cricket Interview/ Kamal Morarka
'There was irrational exuberance to punish the cricketers'.
Industrialist and member of Parliament Kamal Morarka was considered a low-profile vice-president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India. Until recently.
When Morarka cut loose with the first of his fusillades against the CBI report into match-fixing, a lot of the e-mails we got asked the same question: 'Who is this Morarka, and where did he spring from?'
What surprised many was the sheer vehemence of his assault on the CBI. What was the motivation? What put the fuel in his tank? What does he think of the issues at the heart of Indian cricket today?
Senior Cricket Correspondent Faisal Shariff went in search of the answers, in a lengthy conversation with the man of the moment.
Mr Morarka, why were you absent from the disciplinary committee meeting?
The meeting was fixed without consulting the two members about their convenience, and I had a prior commitment on the 4th and 5th in Rajasthan. So when I got a notice, that the meeting is on the 5th, I faxed Mr Muthiah and asked him to postpone the meeting, since I would not be able to make it. I told him, in any case, since the players concerned have been suspended, nothing will be lost if we have a meeting after a few days.
But Mr Muthiah has said the pressure was building on the Board and that they were buying time; there were some deals going on behind the curtain. You know because of that he wanted to finish it of as soon as possible. Don't you think he had a point when he said that?
I don't know about any deals being made and what pressure he is referring to. Pressure from the media, yes; and tremendous pressure from the media.
Also, political clout allegedly being used by some players?
I was shocked to read about it in the media. I can say for myself that no politician has rung me up to say anything about this matter at all. As for Mr Muthiah, he can answer for himself. But I don't understand even if someone rings us up, why should we come under pressure?
What if it happens to be a powerful Union minister?
Are Union ministers powerful enough to take away my intelligence or my conscience? I don't think so. I don't think I will come under any pressure.
Were you not upset that you were a member of the three-member committee and the decision was taken without you?
Nothing to be upset about. He (Muthiah) is chairman of the committee and he has the right to call the meeting. However, it would have been very desirable if he had considered my very reasonable request of postponing the meeting by a few days. But if he told you he was under tremendous pressure, then, well, it is entirely up to him and his ability to handle pressure. I can't answer that question for him.
Mr Morarka, do you think had you been present that day the nature of the punishment would have been different? Or was it as desirable as you thought it would be?
That is like putting the cart before the horse. If the meeting was convened just to put a stamp of approval on what Madhavan or the CBI have done, then I don't think the meeting needed to be called at all.
What was the need for the committee? Why did you say there was no point in having a committee?
No, the constitution provides for a committee. Even in a private organisation you can't dismiss a clerk or a peon without going through a proper procedure. And here you are playing with the lives of cricketers. At least, the minimum the cricketers deserve is a hearing by the three-member committee. This tearing hurry, I can call it irrational exuberance!
Of the BCCI?
No, not of the BCCI. All around there was irrational exuberance to punish the cricketers. I don't find it rational. Everybody in this country is a citizen. Cricketers are also citizens and they deserve the same treatment as you or I would want if we were accused of something. They should be given a proper hearing; the pros and cons should be weighed, the evidence available should be weighed properly and only then should they be punished.
Haven't you had a conversation with Mr Muthiah since that day?
No, what is the point? The committee has already sat. Now what the committee has done, I do not know. If I get the minutes -- as a member I should get the minutes -- maybe I will be enlightened. Did they actually go through the details or did they say the pressure is building up, Madhavan has studied everything, so let's decide now, that so and so gets life, so and so five years.
You don't seem to sound happy with the punishment that was given.
How can I be happy or unhappy without even knowing what went into the meeting? If the meeting had weighed the pros and cons of each player and seen both sides, and taken a conscious decision, then justice has been done. On the other hand, if the meeting has just gone and repeated what Mr Madhavan said, then I don't think justice has been done.
A hypothetical question: If you were there, what would be the first thing you would have done at the meeting?
The first thing I would do would be to treat each individual separately; not bunch them together. For each individual I would make a tabulation as to what has the CBI found out, what has the CBI said about them, and then match it with Madhavan's findings. See if they are either consistent or inconsistent. Then see what have they, the players, said to us, directly. Then, if there are contradictions, I would definitely approach the CBI. If the CBI version is X and the player's is Y, then I would write to the CBI and say: 'Look, this is the player's version before us. The CBI, which has found everything improper, could have taken action'.
But they were not supposed to take action. They have said it is just a probe.
No, no, they have said very clearly that they cannot take action because of inadequate evidence. If there was adequate evidence the police had to take action against these people. Who are we? In any case, what has the BCCI done? That you can't play cricket, that's it.
And all of them are almost finished. They are at the fag end of their careers, except Ajay Jadeja.
The BCCI doesn't have any legal powers. We only have the administrative powers of the Board. If the CBI had found something against them, then they were duty bound to file an FIR against them.
We all know that match-fixing is not a crime in India. So what legal action are you talking about?
So, why hand it over to the CBI? If the CBI is a body which has so much time and money that it spends it on non-criminal activity, then it's a very serious matter. Now we are starting another controversy. I don't know whether it's a crime or not, but if what you are saying is true, that match-fixing is not a crime, then the CBI is a criminal investigative agency.
I think the BCCI is at fault for even calling for it in the first place.
You are making me say things that I don't even know. I thought in my view that match-fixing was a crime, betting may not be a crime. But in this case CBI found no evidence in match-fixing. So the question doesn't arise at all.
Mr Morarka, what would you say about Mohammad Azharuddin's reported statement to the CBI -- "Maine match banaya tha."
In front of us he has denied it, he said I have not made that statement.
Do you think the CBI would lie?
I think everybody is honest; I don't think Azharuddin would lie either. So that's not the issue.
If you had to trust between Azhar and the CBI, who would you trust?
No, why should I trust? I would write to the CBI -- after all you have recorded the statement, a taped statement. So either give us the tape or give us Azhar's signed statement.
Have you asked the CBI for the recording?
No, the other committee members said: 'Forget it, Kamal, this will take lot of time'.
Didn't you insist with the other members that this should be done? Because, I think, it should have been public…
If I were present at that meeting I would have said this: If this fellow is denying this in front of us, and if we are supposed to dispel justice, then we must weigh the evidence and write to the CBI. I would have said that.
Dr Muthiah did not think it was important to wait. If time is the essence and not fairness, then I have nothing to say. I am of the other view. I am a believer in Anglo-Saxon jurisprudence, which is applicable to all citizens and I don't understand why it is not applicable to the cricketers.
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Mail Cricket Editor