Newly-appointed Indian Premier League chairman Ranjib Biswal says it is too early to speculate the future of Chennai Super Kings in the cash-rich T20 league. In an exclusive chat with sports.ndtv.com on Wednesday from Bhubaneswar, Biswal said: "It's too early to say CSK will be banned because one of their team members is facing charges of corruption. We will go by the rule book and will not rush into making a legally wrong decision."
Welcoming the Supreme Court appointed three-member panel that will probe allegations of spot-fixing and betting in IPL 2013, Biswal said: "This will be an independent probe and done by legally astute men. The Board of Control for Cricket in India and the IPL governing council will respect the decision made by the panel and we will follow their recommendations."
The Supreme Court on Tuesday formed a three-member panel, headed by former High Court judge Mukul Mudgal, to investigate allegations of corruption in IPL 2013. The panel includes senior advocate and additional solicitor general L Nageshwar Rao and Assam Cricket Association member Niloy Dutta. The panel will have four months to submit their report.
A bench of Justices A.K. Patnaik and J.S. Khehar, acting on a petition by Cricket Association of Bihar, wants the Mudgal-headed panel to investigate corruption charges against Chennai Super Kings' Gurunath Meiyappan and Rajasthan Royals owner Raj Kundra. Meiyappan, who has an IPL team owner's badge, is the son-in-law of BCCI president N. Srinivasan. Chennai Super Kings is owned by India Cements, a company that has Srinivasan as its managing director. (Recap: Will heat on Meiyappan also burn CSK?)
If Meiyappan, who has already been chargesheeted by Mumbai Police for betting, is found guilty by the Mudgal commission, former champions Chennai Super Kings could face termination. According to clause 11.3 of the IPL franchise agreement, if any official, team owner or anyone associated with the team tarnishes the image of the league, the franchise can be terminated immediately. Meiyappan was designated as the Team Principal of CSK before being 'demoted' when news of him being involved in illegal betting came to limelight. (Also read: Hussey's book reveals Meiyappan was CSK boss)
Forty-three-year-old Biswal, who was handpicked by Srinivasan to become IPL chairman, said: "We will wait for the Mudgal committee to make its recommendations. It will be the endeavour of the governing council to make the right decisions and I can assure you no influence will work on us as a team. The IPL has earned a bad name and it will be our job to give it a clean image again."
Meanwhile, the first meeting of the IPL governing council is expected next week. A former Congress MP from Jagatsinghpur, Orissa, Biswal is virtually sitting on an 'active' volcano with several controversial and delicate issues to handle. The fate of CSK will surely be one of them.
'I am not a flash in the pan. I am here for a job and with all the learning from six editions of IPL, we will take fresh guard.' Even through Srinivasan is 'legally' not allowed to meddle into IPL affairs, will Biswal and his council be allowed to make 'independent' decisions? Biswal promises to 'fair and upright.' He says: "(Unlike others) I am not a flash in the pan. I am here for a job and with all the learning from six editions of IPL, we will take fresh guard."
Having played several roles in his life - the Stephanian was also captain of India's youth cricket team - Biswal is perhaps facing the biggest test of his cricket 'career'.