Supreme Court begins Operation Clean-up in Indian Cricket

NEW DELHI,Chander Shekhar Luthra(DNA): The gentleman’s game will never be the same again in India! With the Supreme Court banning suspended BCCI president N Srinivasan from contesting the next round of the cricket body’s elections, the Board of Control for Cricket in India is in for a tough time.

For starters, they will not be able to scape from the clutches of the Right to Information Act. For far too long, the BCCI has done everything in its power to thwart the sports ministry’s bid to bring it under the National Sports Code. The BCCI’s refrain, “We don’t take a single penny from the government, so why should we abide by their rules.” But all this is set to change. The SC framed seven questions on issues like whether BCCI was a “state” or not. The court held that even though the BCCI is not a “state” in the constitutional framework, its functions are “public” and as such it is “amenable” to judicial review.

Team India or BCCI XI

The court has also ended the debate which BCCI used to cite in its arguments. The BCCI has given written submissions in various courts around India that because it selects a “BCCI XI and not Team India”, it cannot be termed as “state”. The SC reminded the court that cricketers receive awards like Bharat Ratna, Padma Vibhushan, Padma Shri on the recommendation of the BCCI and players who bring laurels to the country are felicitated by President and prime minister. The court said even though the Union and state governments gave full autonomy to the BCCI to select the national team, “it (state) chooses not to bring a law to challenge the powers of the cricket board”.

Triple blow for Srinivasan

For Srinivasan, Thursday was a complete disaster. The SC accepted the findings of the Justice Mukul Mudgal Committee. This means that both Gurunath Meiyappan and Raj Kundra have been found guilty of betting. This, according to the Indian Premier League’s own rules, amounts to “fixing” and calls for termination of both franchises. Srinivasan’s days as ICC chairman too seem to be numbered as new BCCI leadership is likely to first put its own trusted man at the helm of the world body.

Sealed envelope

The SC also said that the Board cannot afford to lose its credibility because of sporting frauds and “all cricket matches must be played on a level-playing field. What goes in the name of game is farce and the game is a game only if it is pristine and free from any sporting fraud.”

The court set up a high-powered committee of judges headed by former Chief Justice of India RM Lodha and former SC judges Ashok Bhan and RV Ravindran “to remove bias” and to have a process which will be “objective and transparent”. The committee will decide the quantum of punishment likely to be awarded to Meiyappan and Kundra. It will also decide the fate of the teams and further probe the allegation of betting against BCCI chief operating officer Sunder Raman.
The fate of all those nine players named in the sealed envelope, including that of India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni (Individual No. 2), may be taken up for action only after the end of the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.
The SC also asked the newly-appointed committee to suggest amendments to the BCCI constitution.