The Supreme Court on Tuesday pulled up the Board of Control for Cricket in India for its "lackadaisical" approach in dealing with irregularities and spot-fixing in the IPL.
It directed it to bring errant elements to book and restore the glory of the gentleman's game.
A bench of justices B S Chauhan and Dipak Misra, which refused to slap a ban on the cash-rich Twenty20 tournament, however, directed the BCCI to take immediate steps to clean up the shorter form of the game.
It also warned the Board that cricket lovers might not take such irregularities in "quietus" and directed it to punish the errant players and teams involved in various irregularities.
"The problem is lackadaisical approach of the BCCI and it must stop," the bench said, in a tough tone, when senior advocate Ranjit Kumar opposed a PIL seeking a ban on IPL matches.
"We are not talking about individual players, but about irregularities. What measures are you taking? You must take all steps to stop the irregularities," it said, adding that judges also watch cricket.
Eighteen people -- Rajasthan Royals’ players Shantakumaran Sreesanth, Ankeet Chavan and Ajit Chandila, four former players and 11 bookies and their assistants -- have been arrested since last Thursday in connection with the spot-fixing scandal.
BCCI admitted that there have been irregularities and it has set up a one-member committee to look into the issue. It said the Board is taking steps to prevent such incidents in future.
The bench then directed the committee to submit its report within 15 days and asked the Board to bring errant teams and players to book on the basis of the report.
"Let the gentleman's game remain a gentleman's game and not be tainted by irregularities and scams," the bench said, adding, "The game of cricket is played in many countries for the last 125 years, so the BCCI must take action to maintain the game.
"We direct that committee submit its report in 15 days and specifically point out irregularities in the matches and individual errant behaviour. The board should take immediate action against the team and the players as per rules," the bench said.
The apex court said "BCCI must conduct a scientific, rational, dispassionate approach inquiry" to ensure that no guilty player gets scot-free by taking "subterfuge".
It said that members of Board's anti-corruption unit should accompany each team going for the match to prevent irregularities.
"A team of anti-corruption unit should accompany each team so that any aberration be detected and the problem nipped in the bud," the bench said.
"When irregularities happen, the viewers may not be able to respond in quietus," the bench warned the Board.
The court was hearing a petition filed by Lucknow resident Sudarsh Awasthi seeking its direction to ban IPL matches in view of recent spot-fixing scandal in which three players and several bookies have so far been arrested.
"There are many irregularities in the IPL beginning from auction of players. Black money and money from anti-social elements are involved in the IPL which needs to be probed," the petitioner submitted.
The bench, however, refused to ban the game saying it cannot be done just because of irregularities.
"Can we ban legal profession just because few lawyers commit wrong things. This is not a case where court should interfere to ban IPL," the bench said.