Uncertainty over the possibility of Board of Control for Cricket in India's president-in-exile Narayanaswami Srinivasan making a comeback and the survival of the Chennai Super Kings in the Indian Premier League deepened on Thursday as the Supreme Court threw suggestions whether those named in the Justice Mudgal Committee report could be kept out of the BCCI elections and whether the CSK franchise could be scrapped.
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During the hearing, which stretched for more than three hours, arising out of Mudgal Committee findings, the Court also wondered as to what would happen if CSK franchise, owned by Indian Cements headed by Srinivasan, is scrapped and whether the conflict of interest issue would persist.
A bench headed by Justice T S Thakur also questioned the BCCI over not taking any action against CSK, Rajasthan Royals, the other team whose owner Raj Kundra was allegedly involved in betting, and their officials on the basis of findings of Mudgal Committee report and pulled up the Board for batting for the beleaguered Srinivasan.
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The apex court also raised questions on the conflict of interest issue arising out of Srinivasan heading the BCCI and also owning CSK.
In a bid to ascertain the ownership of CSK, the Court asked Srinivasan to furnish details of shareholdings and composition of board of directors of India Cements Ltd, which according to him is the owner of the team. Srinivasan is the vice-chairman and managing director of India Cements.
He and the company, however, accepted before the court that Gurunath Maiyappan, who was arrested for allegedly betting during the sixth edition of the IPL last year, was an official of CSK. They had earlier described Meiyappan just as a cricket enthusiast who had nothing to do with the team management.
The, bench also comprising Justice F M I Kalifulla, suggested that the election process for the BCCI should go ahead but the people whose names have cropped up in the Mudgal report should step aside and the new board should decide what actions are to be taken on the basis of findings of the report.
"Why should we take action? You must yourself take the decision. There is no need to be defensive on the issue. We will give you the opportunity. Take a call on the issue. BCCI must put an end to all the controversy," the bench said.
"Let all the persons involved in controversy step aside and election be conducted for the board and let the new board take a decision," it said.
The bench said there were two aspects which need to be looked at and these are what would happen to CSK and Rajasthan Royals, and Srinivasan, Meiyappan and Kundra.
"The process of selecting the team members and captain may not be directly but indirectly taken by Meiyappan through his wife who is a member of India Cements Board having stakes in the company.
"He might be the ultimate controller of the team though he has no stakes in the company," the bench said.
"We would like to know the composition of the Board members of the company. We would like to know the share holding of the company and the stake of Srinivasan and his family in the company.
"Who are the people who took decisions on behalf of the company regarding CSK? We are looking for real owners of the CSK," it said.
Senior advocate C A Sundaram, appearing for the BCCI, tried to defend Srinivasan by saying that Meiyappan has no stakes in the company.
The bench shot back saying: "You are batting for India Cements or BCCI?"
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Srinivasan said neither he (Srinivasan) nor CSK captain M S Dhoni ever gave a written or oral statement before the Mudgal Committee that Meiyappan was merely a cricket enthusiast.
This could be examined by going through the audio recording of the proceedings, he said.
However, senior advocate Harish Salve, appearing for the petitioner Cricket Association of Bihar and its president Aditya Verma, said that Srinivasan in a televison interview had described his son-in-law as a cricket enthusiast.
The bench once also asked the BCCI as to what would be its decision against teams and their officials if they are asked to take a decision.
Sundaram, appearing for the Board, contended that a seperate external commission be set up by the court to hand out punishment to people and the teams after hearing them.
As the two sides battled, the bench remarked in a lighter vein "We (judges) are two batsmen and you are throwing googlies and bouncers at us" evoking laughter all round in the court room.
The case has been adjourned for Monday for further hearing.