‘Dhoni promotes Chennai Super Kings. He is also captain of the national team and plays a key role in its selection'
'Kumble and Srikkanth are the mentors of IPL teams Mumbai Indians and Sunrisers Hyderabad respectively'
'Commentators are not interested in the fate of the match. Their role is like Sanjay of Mahabhartha... they remain dispassionate'
The Board of Control for Cricket in India on Wednesday submitted a list of players, including former greats Sunil Gavaskar, Ravi Shastri and Sourav Ganguly, and administrators with commercial interest in the Indian Premier League to the Supreme Court, which reserved its order in the alleged betting and spot-fixing scam case.
Perusing the BCCI's list, which also included Anil Kumble, Krishnamachari Srikkanth, Venkatesh Prasad and Lalchand Rajput, a bench, headed by Justice T S Thakur, said, "If you have commercial interest in the IPL or any other format, then you should not be in the administration."
Senior advocate C A Sundaram, appearing for the BCCI, submitted the list and said that in some way or the other, they have commercial interests in the IPL.
"Some of them are doing commentary and players like Kumble and Srikkanth are the mentors of IPL teams Mumbai Indians and Sunrisers Hyderabad respectively," Sundaram said.
The Court said, "So far as IPL or Champions League are concerned, you (BCCI) have removed them from rule 6.2.4. Let us not deal with it. Let us take the example of tests. The no.7 (Srikkanth) is in the selection committee. He is also a mentor of Sunrisers Hyderabad.
“How can you keep him there (in the selection panel). How will you justify that?" the bench, also comprising Justice F M I Kalifulla, asked.
"How you allowed the No.7 (Srikkanth) to be a selector when he already had a role in IPL. We are on the selection of national team," it added.
These are the cases of "potential" conflict of interests and it would be a very difficult situation if they are treated as "conflict of interests", counsel for the BCCI said.
Sundaram said effective ways and means could be found to deal with cases of conflict of interests if they arise, adding, "M S (Mahendra Singh) Dhoni promotes Chennai Super Kings. He is also the captain of national team and plays a key role in selection of the Indian team.
"The rule (6.2.4) should not be allowed to go. We can decide the method to deal with the situation of conflict of interests," he said.
The court said there is a difference between the persons who have put themselves on auction with those (like commentators) who render their services for a fixed remuneration and are "dispassionate" with the result of the game.
"Commentators are not interested in the fate of the match. Their role is like Sanjay of Mahabhartha... they remain dispassionate," the bench said.
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for BCCI president-in-exile Narayanaswami Srinivasan, said a person cannot be accused of having conflict of interest just because he happened to be an administrator and part of a company which owns a team simultaneously.
"If my holding the office of BCCI president and my owning a team is conflict of interest then please pass an order against me," he said.
The conflict of interest cannot be a "matter of policy" and it should must be "irreconcilable", he said.
Sibal gave illustrations and said, "It exists everywhere. There is hardly any place where conflict of interests is not there. It happens in judiciary also."
The bench then said: "How can you as president of BCCI give a reward of Rs 16 crore to your team. Of course, other teams also got the money... The fact that you returned the money later, does not mitigate your action.”
"It is not that BCCI has not done any good work. There are ills and we are here to deal with them," Sibal said, adding, "the match-fixing and betting has nothing to do with rule 6.2.4. Fixing and betting took place in 90s also when this rule was not there."
Each situation of conflict of interest of should be "tested on a case to case basis", Sibal said, adding that the right to contest and hold the post are statutory rights and cannot be taken away unless provided by a statute.
"The problem is that we are confusing conflict of interests with the public policy," he said, adding that the ethics committee can say to me to disengage if there is any conflict of interests."
"Unfortunately, in BCCI there is no procedure to deal with it. It seems there is a deep rooted conflict of interests. You are the President of BCCI. You are the MD of the company that owns a team. Your son-in-law is found to be involved in the betting...what is the result of your conflict of interest. No system has been evolved to deal with all this," the bench said.
"Everybody knew that I own a team. I sought a permission from Sharad Pawar (then BCCI chief). It is nobody's case that BCCI has been compromised. No person has ever said that CSK has been benefited. Having financial interests does not necessarily mean that there is conflict of interest," Sibal said.
Senior advocate Nalini Chidambaram, appearing for Cricket Association of Bihar, which filed the plea through secretary Aditya Verma, however, opposed the plea saying that the conflict of interest is "writ large" by looking at the fact that the BCCI machinery was used to save the CSK from disqualification.
When the name of Gurunath Meiyappan cropped up in betting, the proceedings were done in such a way that Srinivasan get the clean chit in a day, she said.
She alleged that Srinivasan stands disqualified as the amendment in BCCI rules took place after he got the team and the amended rule cannot be applied with retrospective effect.
Image: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (right) and Krishnamachari Srikkanth.
Photograph: Hitesh Harisinghani/Rediff.com