- 'No one who has any commercial interest in the BCCI events (including Mr. N. Srinivasan) shall be eligible for contesting the elections for any post whatsoever.'
- 'Rajasthan Royals owner Raj Kundra and Srinivasan's son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan's role in betting stands proved.'
The Supreme Court on Thursday finally set the ball rolling for one of the biggest shake-ups in Indian cricket by barring president-in-exile Narayanswami Srinivasan from contesting the next elections of the Board of Control for Cricket in India, citing his conflict of interest.
Srinivasan, who owns the Chennai Super Kings franchise in the Indian Premier League, took over as BCCI chief in 2011 but was forced to step down last year in the wake of the betting and match-fixing scandal that rocked the sixth edition of the cash-rich T20 extravaganza in 2013.
A two-member bench, comprising Justices T S Thakur and F M I Khalifulla, while delivering its verdict, also held that the allegation of betting against Gurunath Meiyappan, a Chennai Super Kings team official and son-in-law Srinivasan, and Rajasthan Royals co-owner Raj Kundra stands proved while that of cover up against Srinivasan “is not”.
A look at what the Supreme Court judgement means for Indian cricket.
- The Mudgal report
The Supreme Court's hard stance, barring Srinivasan from contesting the next elections of the BCCI, could virtually signify the end of his tenure in cricket administration though he will still continue as chairman of the International Cricket Council.
The apex court held an amendment in the BCCI rules, incorporated in February 2008, permitting cricket administrators to have commercial interest in the IPL and Champions League T20 as "unsustainable" and "impermissible" and struck it down.
"Amendment to Rule 6.2.4 whereby the words ‘excluding events like IPL or Champions League Twenty 20’, were added to the said rule is hereby declared void and ineffective. The judgment and order of the High Court of Bombay in PIL No.107 of 2013 is resultantly set aside and the said writ petition allowed to the extent indicated above," the Supreme Court said in its order.
It also asked the BCCI to hold its elections, pending since last year, within six weeks. It means the Board will have a new president by the end of February.
"The constitution of the Committee or its deliberations shall not affect the ensuing elections which the BCCI shall hold within six weeks from the date of this order in accordance with the prevalent rules and regulations subject to the condition that no one who has any commercial interest in the BCCI events (including Mr. N. Srinivasan) shall be eligible for contesting the elections for any post whatsoever.
"We make it clear that the disqualification for contesting elections applicable to those who are holding any commercial interest in BCCI events shall hold good and continue till such time the person concerned holds such commercial interest or till the Committee considers and awards suitable punishment to those liable for the same, whichever is later," the court added.
Though Srinivasan has the option of giving up his stake in the Chennai Super Kings franchise, he barely has time for the same, as Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals are themselves guilty of breaching IPL rules.
It will be interesting to see who will throw his hat into the ring and replace Srinivasan, who, with a majority of the members backing him, was certain to win the elections and retain the president's post.
Sunil Gavaskar temporarily took over as stand-in president during the IPL last year, while Shivlal Yadav is temporarily BCCI chief, having been appointed by the Supreme Court last year.
Former president Sharad Pawar is likely to take advantage of the current scenario and stage a comeback to the BCCI. Certainly, he emerges a strong contender for Srinivasan’s seat.
The court also said Srinivasan's son-in-law, Gurunath Meiyappan, and Raj Kundra were indeed team officials of Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals respectively and guilty of betting in the IPL.
"Rajasthan Royals owner Raj Kundra and Srinivasan's son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan's role in betting stands proved," it observed.
It appointed a three-member committee, comprising former Judges R M Lodha, Ashok Bhan and R V Ravindran, to look into the charges against the two teams and guilty officials and decide the quantum of punishment. It is likely that the two teams could be barred from the IPL since its rules and regulations state that a franchise can be terminated if its owners bring the sport or the league into disrepute.
"The Committee shall, before taking a final view on the quantum of punishment to be awarded, issue notice to all those likely to be affected and provide to them a hearing in the matter. The order passed by the Committee shall be final and binding upon BCCI and the parties concerned subject to the right of the aggrieved party seeking redress in appropriate judicial proceedings in accordance with law," the court said.
It also empowered the committee to make necessary amendments to the BCCI’s rules, while also setting guidelines in place for the conduct of elections.
"Amendments considered necessary to the memorandum of association of the BCCI and the prevalent rules and regulations for streamlining the conduct of elections to different posts/officers in the BCCI including conditions of eligibility and disqualifications, if any, for candidates wanting to contest the election for such posts including the office of the president of the BCCI."
In another big blow to the IPL, the Supreme Court also ordered that further charges against CEO Sundar Raman, who was one of the four 'officials' charged for misdemeanour in the spot-fixing and betting scandal, be probed.
"The three-member Committee constituted shall also examine the role of Mr. Sundar Raman with or without further investigation, into his activities, and if found guilty, impose a suitable punishment upon him on behalf of BCCI. Investigating team constituted by this Court under Shri B.B. Mishra shall for that purpose be available to the newly constituted Committee to carry out all such investigations as may be considered necessary, with all such powers as were vested in it in terms of our order dated 16th May, 2014.
"We hope and trust that the Committee concludes the proceedings as early as possible, but as far as possible within a period of six months," it said.
Srinivasan's ouster comes as a major body blow to members of the BCCI. All this while most of them blindly supported the veteran Chennai administrator. Now, after the latest Supreme Court ruling, they need to come together, do some soul-searching and find a suitable leader.