Bombay High Court calls BCCI probe panel illegal


BOMBAY HIGH COURT CALLS BCCI PROBE PANEL ILLEGAL

The Bombay High Court has struck down the BCCI panel, put together to investigate the spot-fixing scandal, after it absolved tainted team-owners Gurunath Meiyappan and Raj Kundra of any role in the spot-fixing scandal. N Srinivasan, beleaguered president of the BCCI on Tuesday evening refused to comment after the Bombay High Court termed as illegal its committee probing the spot fixing and betting scandal in the Indian Premier League.

"The only thing I have heard is that the writ has been dismissed and no relief has been granted. I don't want to say anything more," Srinivasan told reporters.

Earlier in the day, the court called the panel illegal and unconstitutional, and has 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 also questioned the appointment of the two-member panel comprising retired Tamil Nadu High Court judges T. Jayaram Chouta and R. Balasubramanian.

BCCI's interim chief Jagmohan Dalmiya on Tuesday evening said he was yet to receive a copy of the order of the Bombay High Court which termed as illegal the Board panel that was probing the betting and spot-fixing scandal in the Indian Premier League.

"I am yet to receive a copy of the order. I shall react only after I receive the copy," Dalmiya told IANS.

BCCI IN AN EMBARRASSING SITUATION: DALMIYA

Dalmiya on Tuesday evening conceded that the BCCI was in an embarrassing situation following the Bombay High Court order terming as illegal the board panel that was probing the betting and spot fixing scandal in the IPL.

"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 told media persons in Kolkata.

Dalmiya's comments came after the Bombay High Court questioned the appointment of the two-member panel comprising retired Tamil Nadu High Court judges T. Jayaram Chouta and R. Balasubramanian.

The panel had absolved IPL franchises Rajasthan Royals and Chennai Super Kings of spot fixing charges, besides bigwigs Raj Kundra and Gurunath Meiyappan, who are associated with the two teams.

The high court also questioned how the BCCI itself could conduct a probe into the spot fixing scam, and ordered the setting up of a new committee to conduct the investigation.

Dalmiya, who made a return to the top of the BCCI on June 2 when Srinivasan agreed to step aside till the pendency of the probe, said the board had adopted a 12-point programme to clean up the game.

"After I took charge on June 2, we took a vow to clean up the game and undertook a 12-point programme, when the working committee met on June 10," he said.

Ever since the high court order on Tuesday morning, Dalmiya was engaged in hectic consultations over phone with other BCCI bosses including Srinivasan, trying to decide on the next course of action for a way out of the mess.

BOMBAY HIGH COURT'S RULING

This move is all set to delay Srinivasan's return to the BCCI, and the Board in all probability will approach the Supreme Court against the ruling. The Bombay High Court was responding to a public interest litigation filed by the Cricket Association of Bihar.

Earlier, former Chennai Super Kings team owner Gurunath Meiyappan and the Rajasthan Royals co-owner Raj Kundra had been cleared of allegations of match-fixing and spot-fixing after the end of an investigation by a two-judge panel comprising of T. Jayaram Chouta and R. Balasubramanian.

"The entire matter needs to be re-investigated. There was disparity in the evidence collected by the probe panel," the high court said in a public interest writ petition filed by Naresh Matani challenging the panel's constitution.

A petition was lodged in the High Court against the BCCI-ordered probe, which cricket chiefs said last month would aim to clean up the sport in India.

"We find that the manner in which BCCI has constituted a panel under its own rules is illegal and unconstitutional," news channel NDTV quoted the court's order as saying.

BALL IN BCCI'S COURT

Amit Naik, a lawyer for the petitioner, told NDTV that it was now "up to the BCCI to see what is to be done next".

A BCCI source declined to comment until lawyers had studied the order. The BCCI could still appeal to a higher court.

Dalmiya was due to place the report, which has yet to be released publicly, before the IPL's governing council in New Delhi on Friday.

A BCCI source had told AFP on Monday that the probe had cleared Srinivasan's India Cements, Rajasthan Royals, Meiyappan and Kundra of spot-fixing allegations.

"There is nothing in the report to implicate these people," the source said on condition of anonymity.

"I don't think we can, or have the right, to stop Srinivasan from coming back as president now," the highly-placed source said.

BCCI MOVE BACKFIRES

Tuesday's development came two days after the two-member BCCI-appointed committee gave a clean chit to Meiyappan and Kundra while accusing Mumbai police of not co-operating in the probe.

The panel's report, which was submitted to the BCCI Working Committee in Kolkata Sunday, gave a clean chit to the two, paving the way for Srinivasan, who had stepped aside in June ahead of the investigation, to return as the BCCI president.

However, Mumbai police on Monday dismissed the allegations and said that it did not send its investigating officer on grounds of legal issues. In fact, police sought to know under what legal provisions could its investigating officer depose before a private panel since as per laws, police can only give its deposition before a court of law.

The investigating officer was required to go to a Bangalore hotel and depose before the two-member panel at the BCCI's expense.

Joint Police Commissioner (Crime) Himanshu Roy observed that if the BCCI panel had requested the probe details, police could have considered sharing details which would not hamper the investigations.

The IPL-6 scam, which was exposed in mid-May, has seen Mumbai police arresting 19 people, including Bollywood actor Vindoo Dara Singh Randhawa, cricketers and bookies. In addition, Delhi Police has arrested 29 people, including former India player S. Sreesanth, who turned out for Rajasthan Royals. (With inputs from agencies)


Also See:

Srinivasan's sham works like a charm
No clean chit to Meiyappan yet, says Mumbai crime branch
Spot-fixing: Police not bound to honour request

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