All those who have brought disrepute to the game should be proceeded against

Kirti Azad: Two-time IPL champions Chennai Super Kings and inaugural edition winners Rajasthan Royals have been suspended for two years by Justice Lodha, who said the decision will uphold the paramountcy of the game.

Much through the 10-year rule of UPA, when I started asking questions in Parliament about BCCI’s lack of transparency, I did not get definitive replies. The ‘Board of Cosy Club of India’ closed ranks and went out of its way to sweep all concerns and complaints under the carpet.

Self-appointed legal eagles took over the disciplinary committee and dusted away all complaints of immorality, unethicality and illegality. Officials’ and players’ misbehaviour was winked at simply because IPL was a big cash cow. Money was flowing from all sides – TV rights are such a big deal. Honorary positions in BCCI began to suddenly attract even senior politicians who left their ministerial positions and rushed to BCCI to form a cozy club of merrymakers.

Whichever party they belonged to, they took oath to safeguard BCCI. Several well-meaning cricketers like me kept shouting from rooftops, but some big cricketers chose to align themselves with IPL Governing Council despite not understanding a thing about legalities and administration. Result: The shrewd administrators and politicians got their signatures like rubber stamps.

Till the very end, the BCCI held fort, not budging despite a telling indictment by Justice Mukul Mudgal report. They had expensive lawyers to bail them out. If the father is a minister, his son appears for BCCI.

The BCCI spent Rs60 crore in legal expenses on these lawyers when every sane person knew that Supreme Court would call their bluff. A private ex-judges panel was commissioned to give Meiyappan a clean chit, which it duly gave.

Justice Mudgal and Justice Lodha Committees demolished every specious argument BCCI put up. Justice Lodha has indicated that no one is bigger than the game. Financial interests of players and teams were not important.
We feel that our decision will uphold the paramountcy of the game. This is an institutional view, said Justice Lodha. If cricket is bigger, financial loss to players or franchises is not important, he said.

This begs a question – Why was BCCI trying to throw mud in the cricket lover’s eyes?

We have acted on behalf of BCCI. The law will take its own course. No criminal liability has been decided by Justice Lodha. BCCI should now wake up and file cases against all the people responsible for taking IPL and BCCI to the pits. A gentleman’s game has been tarnished. All the politicians and so-called administrators should be booked for cheating the public by dishing out pre-arranged games.

When winner gets Rs15 crore, individual players were getting Rs16 crore. Teams with fine players and without local content were intent to lose matches from winning positions.

Unlike in football, where the contribution of marquee players is substantial, here the most expensive buys dish out pathetic and sub-par performances.

The cricket lover cannot comprehend why a team wants to lose, but IPL is still a winner because it generates huge money for many stakeholders. What happens to the purity of the game which should remain central to cricket?
Justice Lodha panel has recommended suspension of RR and CSK for a period of two years for each of them. The purity of the game has been affected by the actions of India Cements and CSK. Fans have been cheated, said the ex-CJI. CSK or India Cements took no action against Meiyappan, who was termed a ‘mere cricket enthusiast’.

It is time to salute the die-hard spirit of the gutsy Aditya Verma, secretary of Cricket Association of Bihar, who challenged corruption in IPL in court. This conference is quite historic as far as sports and law is concerned. This is the first time a verdict was delivered in front of media cameras. Something like the Oscar Pistorius hearing in South Africa.

The big question is: What happens to the six capped players reportedly mentioned in the sealed envelope submitted by the Justice Mudgal panel? There have been murmurs of suspicion against three top Chennai Super Kings players. Even former IPL boss Lalit Modi has suggested in a letter to ICC that matches were fixed and players were involved. The ICC has put a temporary cap on this Modi letter. It is like a dormant volcano waiting to erupt. The panel is doubling up as BCCI’s disciplinary committee.

There have been deliberations and court hearings for over two years now. It is time to decide. Little wonder that the ‘cosy club’ never thought that anybody could touch them. They considered themselves to be above the law of the land. They had a measure of the government, with several ministers and senior politicians from major political parties on their indirect rolls. They jumped to BCCI’s defence each time the board’s name cropped up in some infamy. The Sports Bill was jettisoned at the altar of their superego.

Misusing the legal loopholes is the trademark of these rogues. Raj Kundra quickly disposed of his 11 per cent stake and India Cements transferred its shares in favour of a trust for a mere Rs5 lakh, cheating BCCI of Rs50 crore in the bargain. All those who have brought disrepute to the game should be proceeded against, under the legal provisions available.

Srinivasan keeps reiterating that his son-in-law is not at fault. He tried to mislead the Supreme Court. It’s time he is permanently shown the door. He is India’s representative in ICC – he should be recalled.

The Lodha panel has also been empowered to recommend changes in the BCCI constitution. I am looking forward to major changes to ensure that the neta-petty businessmen-bureaucrat nexus is broken. There should be a major overhaul of BCCI – small and deft touches to hoodwink the cricket-loving public will not do.