During a hearing, the two-member special Bench said: “You can’t make a distinction between BCCI and IPL. IPL is a by-product of BCCI.”
The top court said: “The ownership of team raises conflict of interest. President of BCCI has to run the show but you have a team which raises questions and it can’t be wished away”. The BCCI lawyers argued that there is no conflict of interest because Bombay High Court had dismissed this issue. However, Srinivasan is seeking a nod from the Supreme Court to seek re-election as BCCI president. The hearing will resume on Tuesday afternoon.
On Srinivasan’s chances of getting another term as BCCI boss, the judges said: “One of the employees (Gurunath Meiyappan) of your team was involved in betting. You have to reply because it will affect the position and the dignity of BCCI president position.” The judges added: “The benefit of doubt should go to the game and not an individual.”
The court’s mood is very clear. Although, conflict of interest was not directly in the ambit of Mudgal’s probe, the Supreme Court judges hinted a person who owns an IPL franchise against whom there are issues of corruption, cannot ethically be the leader of BCCI. “You are assuming a clean chit,” the judges told Srinivasan.
The judges said: “Some people who are in BCCI now own a team. Now it has become a mutual benefit society.” They added: “If people know that a game is fixed who will visit the stadium? In India, cricket is like a religion. Recognition comes when one lakh people in Eden Gardens applaud.”
Srinivasan, who has been suspended as BCCI president by the Supreme Court till investigations into corruption in IPL were over, owns Chennai Super Kings. His son-in-law Meiyappan, identified as a team principal by the inquiry panel headed by former judge Justice Mukul Mudgal, has been indicted for betting. Chennai Super Kings, led by India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, are two-time IPL champions. Srinivasan had called Meiyappan a “cricket enthusiast” who was not a stake-holder in Chennai Super Kings.
Srinivasan, ICC’s first chairman is seeking a second term as Board president. The BCCI AGM is scheduled on December 17. The probe report said Srinivasan, is “not involved with match fixing activity” and “not found to be involved in scuttling the investigations into match fixing”.
However, the report charged him and other IPL officials of “cover up” of misdeeds of an unnamed player who violated Players Code of Conduct. The report called these “misdemeanours.”