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Ravi Shastri’s appointment in IPL 2013 probe-panel could hit legal hurdles

Ravi Shastri (above) has been a vocal supporter of embattled BCCI President N Srinivasan © Getty Images
Ravi Shastri (above) has been a vocal supporter of embattled BCCI President N Srinivasan © Getty Images

Ravi Shastri has been appointed by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) in the probe panel looking into the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2013 betting and spot-fixing controversy. After the Supreme Court accorded BCCI the opportunity to maintain its institutional autonomy, have they raised eyebrows in appointing a man who is a staunch and unabashed supporter of N Srinivasan. Nishad Pai Vaidya looks into the whole affair.

Ravi Shastri is an outspoken man. Be it the Mike Denness controversy in 2001 or the Decision Review System (DRS) debate a decade later, Shastri has fearlessly expressed his views, defending the cause of his country. He thus seems the right candidate to be part of the probe panel to investigate into the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2013 betting and spot-fixing controversy. But then there are allegations against N Srinivasan — a man for whom Shastri has the highest respect and not hesitated to say so in public.

Shastri fiercely defended Srinivasan at the Dilip Sardesai Memorial Lecture in September last year. Some of the most cerebral minds in Indian cricket were in attendance, when Shastri thundered, “N Srinivasan is a terrific administrator.”

Shastri defended Srinivasan’s decision to stick to his chair — something  which the Supreme Court described as “nauseating.” Shastri said, “If I was in the position of BCCI president, or as a captain of a cricket team with three players involved in spot-fixing, there was no freaking way I would have resigned. That would have been the easiest way out. The school I come from, you take the responsibility and bring the house in order.”

In view of such strong views, was it right to have such a man on the probe panel? Can one expect Shastri to be objective while investigating Srinivasan?

Shastri is on BCCI’s payroll for some time. The BCCI secretary [Sanjay Patel] told Shashank Manohar that Shastri would resign. But will that help the cause? As Aditya Verma, the petitioner in the Supreme Court, said, “I have no any doubt about credential of two members, but Mr Ravi Shastri is a paid employee of BCCI from long time.”

In June 2013, the BCCI appointed the first probe panel, comprising two retired judges, who handed clean chits to India Cements, Raj Kundra and Rajasthan Royals. It was due to that dubious process that Aditya Verma moved the Bombay High Court. Although the Supreme Court has come down hard on the BCCI in the aftermath of the Mudgal Committee report, it has given it a chance for redemption. Here was an opportunity for the BCCI to show that they are serious about cleaning up cricket and were ready to have a full investigation. Instead, they have appointed a Srinivasan loyalist in the probe panel.

Shastri may even be ready to keep his admiration aside and look at it objectively. However, his comments in the past and the overt support for Srinivasan has not gone down well with cricket lovers who expect a clean-up of Indian cricket. It isn’t about Shastri, but the message the BCCI is sending. Once the matter comes before the Apex Court again, one can expect the petitioner to challenge the BCCI on the subject. It’s quite possible that Shastri’s presence in the probe panel could be rejected by the SC.

(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and anchor for the site’s YouTube Channel. His Twitter handle is @nishad_44)

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