Supreme Court bars Srinivasan from contesting BCCI elections

Krishnadas Rajagopal New Delhi | Updated on January 24, 2018

Gurunath Meiyappan (left) and N. Srinivasan (right)

Asks him to choose between BCCI, CSK; Meiyappan, Kundra guilty of betting

Heralding an overhaul of Indian cricket, the Supreme Court on Thursday held that Board of Control for Cricket in India can hold elections in the next six weeks provided no person holding commercial interests in the Indian Premier League, including Chennai Super Kings owner and BCCI president-in-exile N Srinivasan, contest.

A Bench of TS Thakur and Fakir Mohamed Ibrahim Kalifulla, in a judgment on the 2013 IPL betting and spot-fixing case, held that the disqualification for people donning both the caps — of cricket administrator and IPL team owner — will continue until they choose to shed one of them.

This means that Srinivasan, who is Managing Director of India Cements, which owns the Chennai Super Kings, will either have to shed his equity in the CSK to be eligible to contest the BCCI elections within the next six weeks or not contest at all.

As a prelude to this direction, the Bench held the February 2008 amendment to rule 6.2.4, which allowed cricket administrators to become team owners, as “void and ineffective”.

It asked whether BCCI, which it held as conducting a “public function” and amenable to writ jurisdiction, can live with the idea that the game is being played to cheat the public.

Noting that the game should be played in its “pristine form”, the Supreme Court upheld the “need for institutional integrity as individuals are only birds of passage and institutions are forever”.

‘No cover-up by Srinivasan’

The Bench, however, gave Srinivasan a clean chit on allegations that he had misused his position in the BCCI to cover up misdeeds like betting and spot-fixing indulged in by team owners and officials during IPL. It said these were mere “suspicions” and “difficult” to prove.

The court further confirmed the Justice Mukul Mudgal probe committee's findings by holding Srinivasan's son-in-law, Gurunath Meiyappan, and Raj Kundra, part-owner of Rajasthan Royals, guilty of betting. It dismissed claims that Meiyappan was not a CSK team official but a cricket enthusiast.

Justice Thakur, who wrote the judgment, said there was enough evidence to prove that Meiyappan was a team official.

The Bench went on to make the franchises — CSK and Rajasthan Royals — liable for “misconduct” of Meiyappan and Kundra, saying that “misconduct is not only punishable against team officials but also against franchises”.

The Bench said it would not be fair to leave the task of deciding the quantum of punishment to either the BCCI or to the apex court itself. So, it ordered the setting up of a three-member high-power committee led by former Chief Justice of India RS Lodha and former Supreme Court judges Ashok Bhan and RV Raveendran as members to decide the question of punishment.

Giving wide powers to the Justice Lodha Committee, the judgment said the committee would further recommend measures to streamline BCCI elections, eligibility of candidates and criteria for disqualification.

The committee would define in detail what amounts to conflict of interest, and evolve a mechanism to avoid the situation. It would also probe the role and involvement of IPL COO Sundar Raman.

Any decision taken by this committee will be “final and binding on the BCCI”.

Published on January 22, 2015

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