Judgment day is fast approaching for Indian Premier League franchises Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals. On February 10, 2014 retired Justice Mukul Mudgal, who was appointed by the Supreme Court as the head of a committee to probe the IPL spot-fixing and betting scandal, will submit its report that may seal the fate of the two franchises. According to sources, CSK and RR face the real possibility of elimination from the cash-rich T20 league.
Justice Mudgal is expected to come down heavily on the Board of Control for Cricket in India and the two franchises when he submits his report to the Supreme Court early next month. The four-month deadline to submit the report expires on February 7. Three players from the Royals - Sreesanth, Ankeet Chavan and Ajit Chandila - were banned by the BCCI last year for spot-fixing in IPL 6 while BCCI president N Srinivasan's Super Kings face expulsion if betting charges against his son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan are proved to be correct.
A three-member commission, headed by Justice Mudgal, was appointed on October 11, 2013 to investigate IPL corruption charges against the owners of CSK and RR. NDTV has learnt that the Mudgal report will establish the fact that Meiyappan was indeed the Team Principle of Chennai Super Kings, something that CSK has denied so far, and not a mere 'enthusiast'. Meiyappan accepted to betting on IPL games in front of the magistrate but didn't depose before the commission, claiming that the matter is subjudice.
The former judge will cite the IPL 11.3 (c) clause of the BCCI-IPL rule book which says, "a franchise may be terminated immediately if the Franchisee, any Franchisee Group Company and/or any Owner acts in any way which has a material adverse effect upon the reputation or standing of the League, BCCI-IPL, BCCI, the Franchisee, the Team (or any other team in the League) and/or the game of cricket".
The panel is still in the process of 'interrogating' selected people related to the IPL. It is scheduled to speak to former BCCI chief and interim president Jagmohan Dalmiya in Kolkata on Friday. The panel will also speak to Aditya Verma, the Cricket Association of Bihar secretary, whose petition initiated all the court action against BCCI, CSK and RR.
The Mudgal committee has spoken to senior politicians and BCCI functionaries like Arun Jaitley and Rajeev Shukla. Even though Lalit Modi is out of favour with the Board, his opinion has been taken into account through his lawyer Mehmood Abdi, who deposed before the commission. Though the report will be binding on the BCCI, the Indian cricket board will have the right to challenge it in the Supreme Court.
In a recent interview, Dalmiya said the commission is 'dragging its feet'. "I saw in the papers that they (the Mudgal probe panel) will come to Kolkata soon and ask questions. It takes so long? Maybe, they want to talk to me. I don't know what is going on. I haven't followed up because I am not involved. The time now is for fact finding. Find the facts and nail the culprits," Damiya was quoted as saying.
Interestingly, the Mudgal committee report will be submitted just two days before the IPL auctions. But, since the BCCI reserves the right to challenge the findings of the report, it is unlikely to have any immediate impact on the auctions. But the script could dramatically change depending on the mood of the Supreme Court judges dealing with the case.