The Supreme Court Tuesday came down heavily on Narayanaswami Srinivasan, saying that the BCCI chief must step down to ensure a fair investigation into the allegations of betting in the Indian Premier League (IPL).
Making it clear that no fair investigation will be possible unless he quits, an apex court bench of Justice A.K.Patnaik and Justice Fakkir Mohamed Ibrahim Kalifulla said if Srinivasan did not step down on his own, it will pronounce on this.
"The first thing is that the man on the top has to go," said Justice Patnaik, pointing to the gravity of the Justice Mukul Mudgal Committee's findings. The court said that the "gist of the Mudgal report is such that we find allegations serious".
"In our opinion, Srinivasan has to step down for a fair investigation into the allegation of betting," said Justice Patnaik during the hearing on the report of Mudgal, who was asked by the apex court to probe allegations of betting and spot-fixing in the IPL.
Having made it clear as to what was passing through its consideration, the court adjourned the hearing till Thursday for the BCCI counsel to take instructions.
As senior counsel C.A. Sundaram sought to defend the BCCI, Justice Patnaik said: "We will show the papers (from the report of Justice Mudgal). You see them and tell us as a counsel about your opinion and not as a paid counsel for Srinivasan."
As Sundaram was showed the report that was given to the court in the sealed cover, the court observed "this is the reason we want him (Srinivasan) to step down."
At one stage, comparing the two reports - one by an earlier committee comprising two retired judges of the Madras High Court Justice Jayaram Chouta and Justice R. Balasubramanian and the other by Justice Mudgal - Justice Patnaik asked: "Can we say that the (earlier) probe report was managed and if we say so, then what will be the consequences?"
The two-member commission of Chouta and Balasubramanian, that was set-up by the BCCI had given a clean chit to Sriniavasan's son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan, the Chennai Super Kings' team principal, in the IPL betting scandal. he two-member commission was later deemed illegal by the Bombay High Court.
Justice Mudgal in his report to the Supreme Court in February, had indicted Srinivasan's son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan in the IPL betting scandal. He also blamed India Cements, owner of Chennai Super Kings, for failing to comply with the Board of Control for Cricket in India's (BCCI) Anti-Corruption Code for Participants.
"You appoint a committee which was flawed by the High Court and the findings of two committees are in conflict," observed Justice Patnaik.
Defending the Chouta-Balasubramanian report, Sundram told the court that they did not have the benefit of the investigation by Mumbai police and they (Mumbai Police) did not appear before the probe committee when called to depose.
Referring to the reports of the two probe committees, Sundaram said that both the reports did not say that inside information was shared with bookies or the matches were fixed.
Apparently unimpressed by the BCCI's stand that it would act on the Justice Mudgal's report and take disciplinary action, the court asked "what is the guarantee that it (BCCI) will act on the report" and added" "We are at the root of it. Why is Hi!
"Whether you will follow Mudgal report and accept it, it is a big question, it is a big question mark. The people in control (of the BCCI) are not taking right decisions," Justice Patnaik said.
Mudgal, who was appointed by the apex court last October to file a detailed report on the IPL betting and spot-fixing scandal, said that Meiyappan was "the face and team official" of IPL franchisee Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and "the allegations of betting and passing information" against him "stand proved".
In a 171-page document submitted to the Supreme Court, Mudgal said the allegations of fixing against Meiyappan as well as Rajasthan Royals co-owner Raj Kundra need to be further investigated.