More trouble for N Srinivasan, as SC © AFP
More trouble for N Srinivasan, as SC scrutinse the controversial amendments of BCCI © AFP

New Delhi: Dec 15, 2014

The Supreme Court today decided to examine the controversial amendment in the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) rules which enables office bearers to own teams in the Indian Premier League (IPL) and Champions League amidst raging debate over conflict of interest issue. The apex court termed the issue of conflict of interest “relevant” and decided to scrutinse the controversial amendments amidst blame game by top cricket administrator, N Srinivasan and I S Bindra over its introduction in the BCCI rules.

“BCCI has to defend the amendment,” a bench comprising Justices T S Thakur and F M I Kalifulla said. Before the bench decided to examine amendment 6.2.4 brought by the BCCI in February 2008 that excluded IPL and Champions League from the purview of conflict of interest and enabled its office bearers to own and promote teams for two events, Bindra said “this is the heart of the problem” and “because of this greed has come into the game”.

“The conflict of interest is involved since 2008 which has created the mess,” Bindra’s counsel Rajiv Dhavan said and added that “the game of cricket is going to dogs”. However, during his submission, he was interrupted by Srinivasan’s counsel Kapil Sibal, who said, “It was Bindra who had confirmed the minutes of the meeting on amendment and today five years after he is raising it here”.

When Sibal said that the issue of conflict of interest, vis-a-vis the amendment was not under challenge, the bench said the Cricket Association of Bihar (CAB), through its Secretary, Aditya Verma has challenged the relaxation in the BCCI rules. CAB had earlier raised the issue of conflict of interest against Srinivasan, alleging that he is the Managing Director of the company, Indian Cements Ltd, which owns the Chennai Super Kings (CSK) in the IPL.

While Dhavan was making submissions, the bench said “there are two options, either this court examines the amendment itself or this court does not go into it and leaves it to a committee to examine whether sports body can have this type of provisions or not and give suggestions”. The bench said it has to be examined whether in priciple or ethically or morally such type of provision can be permitted or not. .

The day’s hearing also saw the bench questioning the IPL Chief Operating Officer (COO) Sunder Raman for not taking action on receiving information that Srinivasan’s son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan and Rajasthan Royal’s Raj Kundra were in touch with actor Vindu Dara Singh who was allegedly acting as a contact of bookies in connection with the IPL 6 spot-fixing and betting scandal.

“You did not think it fit of talking to somebody in BCCI on receiving information of betting and allegation against two individuals. As silent spectator you are watching the fun involving celebrities. What will you do when son-in-law of BCCI President is indulging in illegal activity like betting. You have to rise above everything on the ocassion. You have done nothing. You should have informed that Meiyappan was indulging in betting,” the bench observed.

The remarks against Sundar Raman came after his counsel V Giri said the COO has received information on betting from chief of BCCI’s anti-corruption unit Y P Singh who had termed those information as in-actionable. Giri, who sought discharge of Sunder Raman from the inquiry, faced several tough questions from the bench which also wanted to know “why the COO contacted Vindu Dara Singh five times” and even admitted knowing bookies.

The bench also said that the findings of Justice Mukul Mudgal Committee on IPL 6 spot-fixing and betting against him is also based on his statement. It also wanted to know whether Y P Singh was examined by any committee or not. The bench questioned Sunder Raman for not maintaining any correspondence with BCCI officials on receiving information on betting.

“It is convenient to say there is nothing against me. But when you received information about Meiyappan and Kundra did it not occur to you as COO that you gather information for the sake of the BCCI. Why did you not put everything in writing,” the bench asked and added that “on receiving information can anyone ask whether it is an actionable information or not”. Giri said all the information received by Sundar Raman was hearsay.

The Mudgal Committee in its findings said that Sundar Raman knew a contact of a bookie and had contacted him eight times in one season. “This individual (Sundar Raman) admitted knowing the contact of the bookies but, however, claimed to be unaware of his connection with betting activities.

“This individual also accepted that he had received information about individual 1 (Meiyappan) and individual 11 (Kundra) taking part in betting activities but was informed by the ICC-ACSU chief that this was not actionable information. This individual also accepted that this information was not conveyed to any other individual,” the Committee had said.