New Delhi, Nov 14:
The Supreme Court Friday disclosed the names of four key cricket personalities, including sidelined BCCI president N. Srinivasan, who were investigated by the Justice Mudgal Committee for allegations of spot fixing and betting in the 2013 edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL). The development resulted in scathing comments from the cricketing fraternity and demands for the guilty to be “put behind bars” besides the Indian cricket board once again postponing its much-awaited AGM and annual elections.
The apex court bench comprising justice T.S. Thakur and justice F.M. Kalifullah said those under the Mudgal scanner were sidelined Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) president N. Srinivasan, his son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan, BCCI chief operating officer (COO) Sunder Raman and IPL franchise Rajasthan Royals co-owner Raj Kundra besides at least three yet unnamed players.
In the wake of the developments, the BCCI Annual General Meeting (AGM) and the subsequent elections – scheduled for Nov 20 – were put on hold for another four weeks.
The BCCI had earlier postponed its AGM and annual elections after the Supreme Court Sep 1 ignored pleas to reinstate sidelined board chief Srinivasan in his post.
The Supreme Court bench Friday said the Mudgal committee report dealing with the conduct and role of the quartet in the spotlight would be given to these four people as well as to the BCCI and the petitioner Cricket Association of Bihar for their respective rejoinders.
The court, however, said the identity of the players named in the report will be held back for the time being.
The court said it would make the report available to lawyers on both sides so that they can make their arguments when the next hearing takes place Nov 24.
The court said all the parties will file their objections to the report within four days of its receipt and they will have the liberty to file responses to rival objections in another four days and directed the listing of the matter for Nov 24.
The court recorded the statement made by BCCI counsel C.A. Sundaram that the meeting of the BCCI annual general body which was scheduled to be held Nov 20, will now take place after four weeks.
Counsel Salve, who appeared for the Cricket Association of Bihar (CAB), said he would make all the four persons under investigation party to the case and application for their impleadment would be filed Saturday and then they would be furnished with the report of the Mudgal Committee.
Counsel Kapil Sibal, appearing for Srinivasan, earlier pointed out that for the purpose of hearing contents of the Mudgal Committee about Srinivsasan, Meiyappan, Sundar Raman and Raj Kundra they have to be impleaded and made party and heard.
“We have seen the report. It does suggest some misdemeanour on the part of certain individuals,” justice Thakur said at the outset of the hearing.
“We have had an occasion to go through the report. There are certain findings recorded by the Mudgal Committee, which may be understood to be indicting some persons with regards to whom inquiry was conducted,” the court said in the course of the hearing.
The counsel told the court that the matter be taken up for hearing Dec 2 as the completion of pleadings would take some time. Justice Kalifulla then suggested bringing the matter up to Nov 24, when they would address the plea.
“We have not stopped the elections. You have yourself postponed it,” Justice Thakur said.
Counsel Sundaram urged the court that it should also say that the annual general body meeting of the BCCI would stand postponed. At this, he said the court can record his statement in the order.
The committee’s findings drew scathing comments from the cricketing fraternity amidst demands for the guilty to be “put behind bars”.
Former IPL commissioner Lalit Modi said all individuals named by the court should be jailed.
Petitioner in the IPL corruption case Aditya Verma said Srinivasan has ruined BCCI’s reputation while former Indian skipper Bishan Singh Bedi also welcomed the court’s decision.
BCCI Vice President Rajiv Shukla, however, said these developments do not jeopardise India’s forthcoming tour of Australia and they are not in any hurry to hold elections.
Former BCCI president Shashank Manohar also criticised the Board’s decision to postpone the AGM, saying it was against the board’s constitution.
In another development, a court here Friday fixed Dec 8 for commencing arguments on the issue of framing charges against accused cricketers S. Sreesanth, Ajit Chandila, Ankeet Chavan and others in the IPL spot-fixing case.