BCCI president N Srinivasan may be under fire from all quarters on the "illegally" appointed panel to probe into the spot-fixing and betting allegations in the sixth edition of the Indian Premier League, but according to board secretary Sanjay Patel he will chair the crucial working committee meeting in New Delhi on Friday.
Patel also told reporters in the capital that Srinivasan is still the BCCI president.
Srinivasan, who stepped aside as president of the BCCI two months ago, is apparently insisting on chairing the meeting even as his colleagues are divided over the constitution of the panel to probe the role of his son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan, the Chennai Super Kings principal, and Rajasthan Royals co-owner Raj Kundra in betting and spot fixing in IPL-6.
Ever since the Bombay High Court said the probe panel was against the BCCI constitution, the board's former and current office-bearers have come out slamming the way the two-member panel was formed in a hurry and the manner in which a clean chit was given to all the accused even when the matter was sub-judice.
The Bombay High Court had on Tuesday struck down the probe panel put together to investigate the spot-fixing scandal, after it absolved Meiyappan and Kundra of any role in the spot-fixing scandal.
The court called the panel illegal and unconstitutional and asked the BCCI to form a new panel. The BCCI couldn't prove to the court that the formation of the panel was in line with its constitution, the court added.
The probe panel's report will be discussed at the meeting of the IPL Governing Council on Friday before deciding on the future course of action against Meiyappan and Kundra.
IPL chairman Rajeev Shukla was non-committal when asked whether Srinivasan would chair Friday's meeting. All he would say was that "it would be decided tomorrow".
BCCI vice-president Niranjan Shah was the first senior board official to come out openly against the panel and called for a fresh investigation.
"Board’s image has really gone down recently. We must do something to improve it. Its legal team will look at it and take the necessary steps. We must have another panel as per the constitution," said Shah.
The commission, comprising former High Court judges T. Jayaram Chouta and R. Balasubramanian, submitted its report to the BCCI working committee in Kolkata last Sunday. The Bombay High Court pointed out that the panel was formed by BCCI CAO Ratnakar Shetty adding that the then treasurer Ajay Shirke and secretary Sanjay Jagdale knew nothing about the appointment process. It also questioned the absence of IPL Governing Council members Ravi Shastri and Arun Jaitley from the panel.
Aditya Verma, secretary of the unrecognised Bihar Cricket Association, has further put pressure on the BCCI to come clean by claiming that he was offered money to abstain from filing the PIL in the High Court.
Verma also told reporters that his association would move court again if Srinivasan chaired Friday's meeting. "The court has categorically termed the two-member probe set up by him as illegal. He has no authority to chair the working committee meeting. In case he does, we will move petition against him. It will be a clear violation of the court orders," Verma said.
Earlier on Thursday, Jharkhand cricket chief and Congress MP, Subodh Kant Sahai, was quoted as saying that Srinivasan should not resume charge in view of the High Court strictures.
Sahai also said that the BCCI should come under the Right to Information Act, even as he appealed to the BCCI members to not allow Srinivasan to continue as Board president.
If Srinivasan does chair the working committee meeting, it will mark his official return to the Board after handing over the reins to interim BCCI chief Jagmohan Dalmiya.
Dalmiya felt the court order was embarrassing for the board. "I don't have all the details yet and I don't know if it is a crisis or not. But this has certainly put us in an embarrassing situation," Dalmiya had said on Tuesday.
According to a NDTV report, Srinivasan is already back as BCCI president. The news channel said he took back the reins from interim president Jagmohan Dalmiya at 8pm on Tuesday.
Srinivasan, however, refused to answer any queries from the media on the matter. "I can't reply, don't hound me like this," Srinivasan said on Wednesday when asked about his reported comeback at the helm of the BCCI.
On Tuesday, Srinivasan had said that he would attend the crucial working committee meeting on Friday. Asked in what capacity, Srinivasan said: "You ask me that question on Friday when I attend the meeting."
The issue of former IPL commissioner Lalit Modi, now living in self-imposed exile in London, is also likely to be discussed at the meeting. (With inputs from agencies)
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