New Delhi: The Justice Mukul Mudgal report on corruption in IPL 2013, a portion of which was made public on Monday, is like a double-edged sword for suspended BCCI president N. Srinivasan. While the report clears him of match-fixing and betting, it still makes the damning charge that he was fully aware of violation by an IPL player but never took any action. The court has not named the player. (Top 10 developments)
Srinivasan, who is seeking another term as BCCI president, will not breathe easy till November 24, when the two-member Supreme Court special Bench comprising Justice TS Thakur and Justice FM Ibrahim Khalifullah, examines the Mudgal report once again. Srinivasan's future will depend on how the judges interpret the probe report. The grave charge that Srinivasan shielded a player, apart from his son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan, could scupper his aspirations in Indian cricket. Srinivasan will get an idea of the BCCI's mood in a working committee meeting in Chennai on Tuesday. (Also read: When Indian players broke down before Mudgal committee)
On November 10, when the BCCI counsel wanted the Bench to allow Srinivasan to contest elections, one of the judges had said Meiyappan, indicted for betting in Mudgal's first report furnished in February, was "close to the individual" seeking election. With the petitioner's counsel expected to aggressively argue the act of "cover up" by Srinivasan, the road to presidency is still full of thorns for the Tamil Nadu strongman.
Of the four "non-playing" members who were named by the Supreme Court on November 14, Srinivasan's son-in-law Meiyappan, who was Chennai Super Kings team principal, has been indicted once again for betting. Rajasthan Royals team owner Raj Kundra, husband of Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty, faces similar charges. The report says IPL CEO Sundar Raman knew a contact of a bookie and had contacted him eight times in a season.
While Gurunath and Raj Kundra were not seen during IPL 2014, Sundar Raman, a close confidant of Srinivasan, was heavily involved with the running of the competition, the first stage of which was held in the UAE. On April 16, the Supreme Court allowed Sundar Raman to continue as COO of IPL 7, as per recommendations made by Sunil Gavaskar. The Supreme Court had appointed Gavaskar interim president (IPL affairs) after Srinivasan stood down as BCCI president till a probe into allegations of corruption in IPL were completed.
The Cricket Association of Bihar secretary Aditya Verma, the petitioner in the IPL scam case, had earlier stepped up pressure on Gavaskar to remove Sundar Raman. "I had earlier invited your kind attention to the fact that Mr. Sundar Raman's continuation as COO of IPL is deeply prejudicial to the interest of IPL and game of cricket.
"However, no action has been taken on my said letter nor any response to the same has been given. By way of this reminder, I would urge you that in the interest of IPL and the game of cricket, please remove Sundar Raman as COO of IPL," Verma wrote in a letter to Gavaskar.
The BCCI working committee is meeting in Chennai on Tuesday to take stock of things. The anti-Srinivasan lobby, spearheaded by two former presidents Sharad Pawar and Shashank Manohar - is up against a large team of Srinivasan loyalists. The meeting could be a show of strength for Srinivasan, who will attend as Tamil Nadu Cricket Association president.
In the eyes of the law, there is nothing called show of strength. The cover-up charge is no less serious. Shielding a player involved in corruption can be equally severe which the Board members ideally should not ignore. Srinivasan already faces charges of conflict of interest and Gurunath's wrongdoings could nail Chennai Super Kings. According to Verma, the 'game' is not over yet. November 24 could make or break Srinivasan.