The Supreme Court on Tuesday will discuss a panel that will launch a fresh enquiry into the spot-fixing scandal surrounding the Indian Premier League. The apex court is also expected to decide on N. Srinivasan's return as the country's cricket chief. On Monday, the Supreme Court proposed a three-member panel headed by headed by former Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court Mukul Mudgal to investigate the scandal that rocked the popular Twenty20 league run by the Board of Control for Cricket in India. Apart from Mudgal, the other members of the three-member panel are senior advocate Niloy Dutta and Additional Solicitor General L. Nageswara Rao. There could be objection on Dutta's name as he is a cricket official from Assam and is on at least two BCCI committees recently approved by Srinivasan.
"We want this committee to probe the spot-fixing and this committee will report to us," said A.K Patnaik, one of two judges hearing the case. Patnaik also told the court that the BCCI's lawyers must reply to the proposal in Tuesday's hearing. The probe will be separate from continuing investigations by police, who have filed charges in court against a string of officials, players and bookmakers in the scandal.
Srinivasan, 68, widely regarded as the most powerful man in world cricket, has been barred by the court from taking charge since his election as the BCCI chief for a third year on September 29. The Supreme Court is acting on a petition filed by the Cricket Association of Bihar. The Bihar association has said that Srinivasan should stay away from the BCCI on moral grounds because his son-in-law had been charged in the scandal.
The son-in-law, Gurunath Meiyappan, was the team principal of the Chennai Super Kings, the IPL franchise owned by Srinivasan's India Cements company and captained by national skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni. Srinivasan, who has not himself been accused of any wrongdoing, stepped aside temporarily as BCCI president in June when Meiyappan was named in the scandal. However, the apex court feels that the BCCI cannot function without a chief and since Srinivasan has been elected "democratically" he could resume his duties but not interfere in IPL matters. A decision is expected on Tuesday. However, the case has been listed at No. 70 and there is a likelihood that it may not come up for deliberation at all.
The Bihar association had argued in court that an internal BCCI probe panel had absolved Srinivasan, Meiyappan, India Cements and other IPL officials of wrongdoing even before police had filed charges in court. Former Australian star Mike Hussey, who has played for the Chennai Super Kings since the inaugural IPL season in 2008, recently dismissed Srinivasan's suggestion that Meiyappan was only a "cricket enthusiast".
Hussey asserted in his new autobiography that Meiyappan was running the team since Srinivasan was busy with BCCI affairs. "Our owner was India Cements, headed by Mr Srinivasan," Hussey wrote, according to excerpts published on several websites.
Hussey wrote: "As he was also on the board of the BCCI, he (Srinivasan) gave control of the team to his son-in-law Mr Gurunath (Meiyappan). He ran the team along with Kepler Wessels, who was (then) coach."
Srinivasan's hold on world cricket stems from India's vast television audience, which enables the country to generate almost 70 per cent of the game's revenues. The fate of India's tour of South Africa hangs in balance as Srinivasan is expected to take a final call only after the Supreme Court lets him take charge as BCCI boss.
(With inputs from AFP)