It's going to be a big week for the Indian Premier League. The euphoria around the players' auction, scheduled in Bangalore on February 12 and 13, will probably hinge on how the Supreme Court reacts to a report by the Justice Mukul Mudgal-led committee that has investigated allegations of corruption in IPL 2013. The report is expected on Monday. (Read: Aditya Verma moves Supreme Court against IPL players' auction)
Monday will also see the Supreme Court hearing an appeal by Aditya Verma, the Cricket Association of Bihar secretary, whose PIL in the Mumbai High Court last year triggered a series of court battles that finally forced the Supreme Court to constitute the Mudgal committee in October 2013. In the eye of the storm are team owners of Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals. (Read: Justice Mudgal wants betting legalized)
Verma's main battle is against N. Srinivasan, the Board of Control for Cricket in India president who also owns CSK. Although Srinivasan is not directly involved in illegal activities like betting, his son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan is facing such terrible charges. Should the Mudgal probe report finds Chennai's team principal Meiyappan guilty and if the IPL governing council follows its constitution to the letter, CSK could be scrapped from the world's richest T20 league.
The Supreme Court could discuss Mudgal's report when it hears Verma's plea which is listed at No. 55 and should come up for hearing around 12 noon on Monday. Last Friday, a plea was moved by Verma's lawyers in Supreme Court for direction to the BCCI that the upcoming players' auction should be subject to order passed by it on the probe report filed by the Mudgal committee.Â The application said if the report is adverse to CSK, then the team's participation in this year's IPL will be untenable. (Read: IPL spot-fixing probe won't be an eyewash: Justice Mudgal)
Verma was among several people examined by the Mudgal committee which was given four months to submit its report to the Supreme Court. Speaking to sports.ndtv.com on Sunday night, Verma said: "No matter what the (Mudgal) report contains, the court's final decision will ensure clean cricket in India. Srinivasan has arm-twisted cricket at all levels and his son-in-law thought he was above the law. There is massive conflict of interest and the law of the land will prevail over the culprits."
Verma is being backed by a strong battery of lawyers like Harish Salve and Nalini Chidambaram. Sources say the CAB secretary is being financed by a lobby of political heavyweights who are against Srinivasan's dominance in Indian cricket. "The apex court has clearly showed its intention by forming the Mudgal committee. Justice will prevail and the corrupt must be booked," tells Verma.
In the last four months, IPL's activities have gone rather smoothly. CSK were in the forefront when they retained their best players for the 2014 season. Rajasthan were not far behind, retaining their players carefully as they slowly put the match-fixing episode that shamed them last year behind. Will the Supreme Court upset all calculations?
The possibilities are many. Srinivasan's stars have been extremely powerful in recent weeks. On Saturday, he was nominated to become the first chairman of the new-look International Cricket Council. But in the Supreme Court on Monday, it will be a different ball game as Mudgal's report may wipe out all the smile in the BCCI strongman's face. Like many in the CSK and Rajasthan camps, Srinivasan and Meiyappan will spend a sleepless night.