Thank God for small mercies! Srinivasan is ready to 'step aside' (not step down!) – as he did last year, to ensure fair probe into the IPL betting and spot-fixing scandal, the Supreme Court (SC) was told on Thursday.
In response to BCCI's proposal, the apex court said it has to think hard for the benefit of cricket and pass order. BCCI has also reportedly offered to the SC that the Chennai Police may conduct a time-bound probe into the scam.
Meanwhile, the petitioner's lawyer Harish Salve said MS Dhoni was guilty of corrupt conduct, and gave false statements to Justice Mukul Mudgal panel. Salve has also accused Dhoni's deposition on Meiyappan as being incorrect and in face of such allegations, CSK should be suspended.
The sealed cover report had talked about the alleged involvement of "six India capped players" in IPL irregularities. The bench intended to open the sealed cover report and read it out in open court. The bench acceded to the request not to do so, but dismissed BCCI's promise to take corrective measures based on the recommendations in the Justice Mudgal panel report to rid cricket of its maladies.
The way the judge admonished the BCCI legal counsel CA Sundaram and showed him a portion of the confidential report, it may not be beyond the realms of possibility that Srinivasan's name also figures in the probe committee report. More importantly, the court has said it will pass an order if Srinivasan doesn't step down. The BCCI's strategy to adopt a wait-and-act policy is difficult to decipher.
If the Supreme Court indeed passes an order against Srinivasan, his entire career as a sports chief will be ruined. At least morally, he will lose face to represent India at the ICC.
In 2004, Srinivasan had ganged up with Lalit Modi and Sharad Pawar to overthrow Jagmohan Dalmiya. Today, Modi and Srinivasan are enemies, and Dalmiya became interim BCCI chief whe n Srinivasan stepped aside for a few weeks last year. BCCI, I feel, could find itself in a similar position if SC appoints an independent person to run the board till all the IPL scams are resolved and punishment meted out.
It would have been advisable for Srinivasan to have quit and appoint a man from among the vice-presidents to run the board. This would have been an 'honourable' solution that would have also not hindered his appointment in the ICC because there was still no conviction. It is foolhardy to defy the highest court.
Further, the SC has proposed that Sunil Gavaskar take over as the interim chief of BCCI in place of Srinivasan. The SC bench also wants no one associated with Srinivasan's company India Cements to be part of BCCI or IPL.
I really wonder if there is any modicum of respect left for any institution in India. How is it that BCCI has come to believe that it is above the law of the land?
The constitution of BCCI, as indeed that of state associations, allows the same guys to have a vice-like grip on the associations. Many of the associations by virtue of being not-for-profit companies, abuse the system of proxies, and retain control by controlling the memberships.
The BCCI uses India in their logo, they use government land for stadium, they use state security for conducting matches, yet they are not agreeable to come under the RTI Act! The politicians who are now entrenched in BCCI ensure that the government cannot act against BCCI.
What is then the way out?
The Supreme Court is the only hope for cricket, not these smart administrators and politicians. If SC orders its own monitored inquiry, on the lines of Justice Mudgal Committee, truth will come tumbling out. Action has to be taken on the directions of only the Supreme Court and no one else.
In the meantime, a person of the eminence, credibility and administrative competence of Bishan Bedi or Mohinder Amarnath should be asked to run BCCI's affairs. The public will then look forward to clean cricket. It is all left to Supreme Court to now crack the whip, starting from today.