Nothing much has changed. The IPL tamasha will go on. BCCI chief N Srinivasan is out for now, but Sunil Gavaskar, the man who has replaced him, is ironically on the board's payroll. Also, the erring franchises – Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and Rajasthan Royals (RR) – have got a lease of life.
After a long-drawn controversy over his continuation as BCCI president following the IPL spot-fixing scandal, the Supreme Court (SC) on Friday removed Srinivasan and appointed former India skipper Sunil Gavaskar as the board's interim working president. The court, however, made it clear that Gavaskar will be in charge only for the duration of the IPL, scheduled to be held between April 16 and June1.
"Sunil Gavaskar has a great reputation and long experience in the field of cricket. We appoint him as interim working president of the BCCI," the bench comprising justices AK Patnaik and FM Ibrahim Kalifulla said in its interim order. It added that he will only look after IPL functions. Restraining Gavaskar, 64, from doing commentary during the 45-day tournament, the bench said BCCI vice-president (South Zone) Shivlal Yadav will take over the reins after the completion of the league.
Ironically, the anti-corruption bureau of Andhra Pradesh has registered a case against Yadav and 22 other committee members for alleged misappropriation of funds to the tune of Rs200 crore of the Hyderabad Cricket Association since 2004. The former India cricketer is vice-president of the association.
The major surprise, however, was that the SC allowed CSK and RR — two teams whose owners/officials/players were arrested for spot-fixing and betting, and were liable to face termination according to IPL rules — to participate in the seventh edition of the cash-rich league. The apex court said the IPL matches will go on as per schedule. "The court did not penalise any teams or players. This judgment is for cricket lovers. We do not want to suspend any team or player at this stage before the IPL," the bench said.
With regard to the allegation that Sundar Raman, chief operating officer of the IPL, should be removed, the court said it was up to Gavaskar to decide if he needed Raman's services.
Srinivasan's position in the BCCI has been considered untenable since a three-member committee, headed by justice (retd) Mukul Mudgal, submitted its report to the SC. It may be recalled that Srinivasan had stepped aside in June 2013 too. Jagmohan Dalmiya had replaced him till a BCCI-appointed panel submitted its findings. The panel gave all and sundry a clean chit after which Srinivasan returned to power in October.
Earlier this week, the SC asked Srinivasan to step down to ensure a free and fair probe. The court also said "none of the employees of India Cements or its associate companies will perform any duty relating to BCCI."
BCCI counsel CA Sundaram clarified that Srinivasan had informed the court that he would step aside from his position for the duration of the court proceedings. "The BCCI was interested in a big investigation to ensure that there would be no element of doubt about its credibility. Mr Srinivasan himself submitted, through his counsel, that would not exercise his powers as president for the course of the probe. It (the SC's interim order) is not a setback. The BCCI wants the matter swiftly conducted and concluded," he said.
Meanwhile, refuting allegations levelled by the petitioner's (Cricket Association of Bihar) counsel Harish Salve against India skipper MS Dhoni, Sundaram said: "Dhoni has been vilified by the counsel."
Justice Mudgal welcomed the SC's interim order. "I expected nothing else except a very balanced order, which takes care of all interests. This judgment takes care of the interests of players, teams, Indian cricket and the country's cricket-loving public," he said.
Several players, including Test pacer S Sreesanth, were arrested for allegedly spot-fixing in the sixth edition of the IPL last year. The court will reconvene on April 16 to hear the matter further. Incidentally, the IPL starts on the same day in Abu Dhabi.