The Supreme Court on Tuesday reserved its order on constituting a probe panel to investigate allegations of corruption against suspended Board of Control for Cricket in India President N. Srinivasan and 12 others. This, after BCCI lawyers objected to Justice Mukul Mudgal carrying out a second round of investigation into the betting and spot-fixing scandal that rocked the Indian Premier League last year.
There was good news for Srinivasan when the two-judge Supreme Court bench refused to stop the ousted Board chief from attending International Cricket Council (ICC) meetings. In spite of Nalini Chidambaram, representing petitioner Cricket Association of Bihar, urging the court to bar Srinivasan representing BCCI at ICC, the court said: "We are not concerned with the issue at present. Let us concentrate on the probe issue." BCCI's lawyers also wanted the court to reinstate Srinivasan as BCCI boss till investigations are completed.
Constituted by the Supreme Court in October last year, Mudgal led a three-man inquiry committee to investigate allegations of betting and match-fixing in IPL. The committee submitted a report on February 10. It also gave a sealed envelope that contained "incriminating material" against Srinivasan and 12 others that needed further investigation and verification.
The Mudgal committee, in its February report, had indicted Srinivasan's son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan for betting and sharing team information. It also said that Meiyappan was the face of Chennai Super Kings, a team owned by Srinivasan's company, India Cements. To ensure a fair probe, the Supreme Court had suspended Srinivasan as BCCI boss. The court named former Test players Sunil Gavaskar and Shivlal Yadav as interim BCCI heads.
After striking down a BCCI-proposed panel last week, the Supreme Court was expected to formally hand over the investigation to retired Justice Mudgal on Tuesday. But the script changed dramatically after the BCCI lawyers opposed Mudgal. The court is now expected to name a fresh probe panel before it breaks for the summer vacation.
Meanwhile, Justice Mudgal submitted his wish-list to the court to be able to conduct a second round of investigation. He has requested for the inclusion of 1972 batch IPS officer M.L. Sharma, who was also a special director of CBI. Justice Mudgal also wants an officer (not below the rank of an Assistant Police Commissioner) each from Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai and a former cricketer of repute and integrity in his panel. Like the first probe, the committee sought a four-month window to complete the investigation.
With the IPL scam case dragging and unlikely to conclude before August-September, Srinivasan will continue to attend ICC meetings and represent the BCCI. Come July, Srinivasan is in line to become the first chairman in a new-look ICC. His tenure as BCCI chief expires in September 2014.
Effectively, Srinivasan will 'rule' without officially sitting on his 'throne.' Justice AK Patnaik, one of the two Supreme Court judges who called Srinivasan "nauseating", is retiring in June.