The Supreme Court has rejected the three-member Board of Control for Cricket in India panel that was proposed to investigate the Indian Premier League 2013 scam. The cricket fraternity was divided over the selection of former Test all-rounder Ravi Shastri, ex-Chief Justice of the Calcutta High Court Jai Narain Patel and former CBI boss RK Raghavan by the BCCI. The court had last week directed the Board to suggest a committee that could investigate the 2013 Indian Premier League spot-fixing and betting scandal. Thirteen names, including that of suspended BCCI president N. Srinivasan, figure in an inquiry committee report submitted to the apex court.
The Supreme Court has now asked Justice Mukul Mudgal whether he will be able to probe the scam with the help of investigators. In February this year, the Mudgal committee had submitted a report to the court after a four-month probe. Mudgal has to reply by 2 PM today.
Meanwhile, on a petition from BCCI, the Mudgal committee has provided the audio tapes of its conversation with Srinivasan, Mahendra Singh Dhoni and IPL COO Sundar Raman. Dhoni's name has been linked with the scam and the Indian captain had deposed before the Mudgal panel. Both Srinivasan and Dhoni were questioned by the Mudgal panel on the exact role of Gurunath Meiyappan, who has been indicted for betting and sharing team information. Gurunath, who was a Chennai Super Kings team official, is the son-in-law of Srinivasan.
BCCI's panel is facing conflict of interest questions. While Shastri is on the pay-rolls of the BCCI, Patel is related to BCCI's vice-president and current interim head, Shivlal Yadav. Raghavan is secretary of a club affiliated to under Tamil Nadu Cricket Association. Srinivasan is the president of TNCA.
On a court directive and under pressure from a section of the Board, the BCCI held an emergency working committee meeting in Mumbai on Sunday afternoon to pick a panel. The Board members took almost three hours to decide three names. The Board proceedings were quite acrimonious, according to sources.
BCCI's list ran into heavy weather with two former BCCI presidents slamming the choice of the panelists. Former BCCI president Shashank Manohar opposed Shastri's inclusion, saying he was a paid employee of the Board and was on more than one important IPL committees. Shastri, who is commentating in the ongoing IPL in UAE, is known to be close to Srinivasan. Manohar, who represented Vidarbha Cricket Association, said the former Test all-rounder's choice was thus a clear case of conflict of interest.
Manohar objected to Raghavan's name as well but the former CBI boss prevailed on votes. Raghavan, who headed the CBI during the match-fixing inquiry in 2000, was one of the 52 people who deposed before the Justice Mukul Mudgal committee.
On Monday evening, former BCCI president Sharad Pawar echoed Manohar's sentiments and went a step further. Pawar objected to Justice Patel's selection saying he was Yadav's brother-in-law. It was yet another case of conflict of interest, said Pawar.
There is pressure on the Supreme Court from the petitioner's counsel to order a CBI or NIA probe into the IPL scam. Last week, the Supreme Court indicated that it wanted to protect the BCCI's "autonomy" by ordering an independent probe. But at the same time the judges added "if compelled, they may even hand it over to the CBI."