BCCI drags Sunil Gavaskar, Sourav Ganguly in conflict of interest list

New Delhi,Chander Shekhar Luthra(DNA): Final round of arguments complete, Supreme Court reserves verdict. The Supreme Court on Wednesday reserved its verdict in the spot-fixing and betting case after the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) submitted a list of administrators and officials having commercial interests in the Indian Premier League (IPL) and Champions League T20 (CLT20).

In the final round of arguments, suspended BCCI president N Srinivasan dragged the names of legendary cricketers like Sunil Gavaskar and Sourav Ganguly to defend himself in the ‘conflict of interest’ matter.

This was after the apex court asked the BCCI counsel to submit a list of officials who would suffer if rule 6.2.4, which allows administrators to have commercial interests, was struck down. The board’s counsel brought up the names of Gavaskar, Ravi Shastri, Ganguly, Krishnamachari Srikkanth, Lalchand Rajput and Venkatesh Prasad.

“What would be the effect on the IPL and Champions League if your president does not own a team? If he goes, will it lead to collapse of the project?” the special bench of Justice TS Thakur and FM Ibrahim Kalifullah asked after the BCCI submitted that having commercial interest in IPL was distinct from the conflict of interest issue.

However, senior counsel CA Sundaram admitted that “except for Srinivasan, no other administrator owns a team or has commercial interest in the IPL”.

The Court took serious note of the fact former chief selector Srikkanth was made brand ambassador of the Chennai Super Kings team and also mentor of Sunrisers Hyderabad without realising the seriousness of his job.

“How a selector could have a post in any IPL team? Isn’t it a clear conflict of interest?” asked the court. “A player plays, is that’s commercial?” asked Justice Thakur, adding, “A commentator is there because of his expertise in the game. Can that be called commercial?”

And when Sundaram continued to compare former players’ interest with that of Srinivasan, Justice Thakur invoked an example from Mahabharata “Sanjay’s job was to narrate the events of war to Dhritarashtra. Who used what weapons or so on; Sanjay was simply doing his duty independent of anything. His heart may have been with Pandavas but he simply narrated faithfully what was going on in the war. Who won or who lost was not his concern and so the role of these former players to comment on matches without having any stake in the outcome of the match,” observed Justice Thakur.

The court further asked BCCI if “these former players are also on sale, or auctioned like others in the IPL?”

The BCCI counsel failed to give a satisfactory reply.

The special bench reserved the order after hearing counsels for Srinivasan, his son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan, Rajasthan Royals co-owner Raj Kundra, BCCI and the Cricket Association of Bihar (CAB), the petitioner in the case.

The court also heard arguments from two interveners, former Punjab Cricket Association chief IS Bindra and lawyer Rahul Mehra.