5:31 am - Wednesday November 4, 2015

Mudgal Report: Three more questions Supreme Court should ask BCCI, Srinivasan

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The Board for Control of Cricket in India’s (BCCI’s) attempts to obfuscate the issues currently before the Supreme Court are not a new tactic.
As lawyer Rahul Mehra detailed for ESPNcricinfo in a case before the Delhi High Court in 2004, “the BCCI board argued that it is a private autonomous body and the team a Board XI, and not the Indian team; essentially that Sachin Tendulkar and the like don’t play for India”.
The High Court did not fall for the ruse and ruled that the BCCI selects the Indian team. That ruling paved the way for the BCCI to be amenable to writ jurisdiction as it performs a clear public function.
A disregard for facts did not bother the board then and does not bother it now. Supreme Court Justices TS Thakur and FMI Kalifulla have done a terrific job in cutting through the board’s smokescreens and also asked pointed questions about suspended BCCI President N Srinivasan’s conflicts of interest. There are, however, three more questions we would like the court to put to Srinivasan and the BCCI.1) Is it not a conflict of interest for India Cements employees to work at the BCCI? Or are other IPL franchise owners allowed to put their employees to work in the BCCI?
In their affidavit filed with the Supreme Court last week, India Cements Ltd said the following:
“Now, that the [Mudgal] Report has been filed and no adverse findings have been made as against this Respondent or its employees, it is just and proper that the employees of this Respondent be permitted to discharge their duties, if any, assigned to them by the BCCI.”
This is a remarkable display of chutzpah. Srinivasan has always insisted he is not the owner of the Chennai Super Kings, India Cements is. But why should the employees of an IPL franchise be performing BCCI functions when the BCCI ostensibly runs the IPL?
The arrangement could give India Cements an advantage over other IPL franchises as it could be privy to BCCI information that is not available to the others, or get information before other franchises. The Board should have to explain why it is necessary for India Cements employees to do its work and what safeguards are in place to protect other franchises from being disadvantaged.
2) Who actually selected, or recommended, the two judges who cleared Gurunath Meiyappan and Raj Kundra of all allegations in the BCCI’s original probe?
It is easy to forget that the challenge to the BCCI’s two-judge panel’s findings sparked the board’s current troubles. In its order, the Bombay High Court noted that the BCCI did not even try to demonstrate how the panel was formed.
“The petitioner stated that there was no mention of the name of the legal advisor who recommended the names of the two judges and where they were based. Despite the same, respondent No 1 (the BCCI) has not filed a sur-rejoinder or cared even otherwise to furnish the details. This would be necessary to refute the petitioner’s contention that respondent No 2 [Srinivasan] was responsible for the appointment of the members of the commission.”
The Court went further still. It noted that the IPL Governing Council did not meet, not even by video conference, to debate the issue and “even the alleged ratification of the said [Jagmohan] Dalmiya’s decision to constitute a commission of the learned Judges alone is not supported by any documentary evidence.”
The BCCI’s lack of evidence for their claims led the court to state that the petitioner, the Cricket Association of Bengal, “has made out a prima-facie case that respondent No 2 (N Srinivasan) was involved in the formation of the commission”.
At the very least, the judges said, the BCCI had failed to prove Srinivasan had nothing to do with it.
If Srinivasan did have something to do with it, then that amounts to a cover-up and the Supreme Court would do well to get to the bottom of it.
3) Is it plausible that Srinivasan did not know of Meiyappan’s role in CSK?
Meiyappan was in the team dugout celebrating every CSK win. There is official IPL video footage of him at the owners’ meeting in 2009, where the caption clearly states he is a team owner. Meiyappan sat at the CSK table during player auctions and, in an interview with the Hindu Business Line, he said he talks to MS Dhoni and CSK coach Stephen Fleming about team selection before every match team.
Meiyappan’s Twitter account even said he was CSK Team Principal (since removed).
Yet India Cements still has not accepted that Meiyappan was even a team official, let alone running the team. In its affidavit, it says “Mr Gurunath Meyiappan (sic) is neither a shareholder, nor a director nor an employee and has not drawn any salary, honorarium or compensation of any kind from Chennai Super Kings or from India Cements Ltd.”
Does Srinivasan claim that as a BCCI official and MD of India Cements, he was oblivious to the presence and claims of Meiyappan, who also happens to be his son-in-law?
If Meiyappan was merely acting as an official without actually being one, how is it that the BCCI, Srinivasan and India Cements allowed it? It that not a violation of the IPL’s anti-corruption rules and regulations?
It is time we found out just who knew what, how much and when.

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