Nod for BCCI's AGM, Srinivasan must wait: SC

New Delhi, Sep 27 (IANS) The Supreme Court Friday allowed the Indian cricket board to go ahead with its Annual General Meeting (AGM) and elections slated for Sunday in Chennai but with a rider that president Narayanaswami Srinivasan cannot take charge even if he is re-elected for a third term.

The apex court bench of Justice A.K. Patnaik and Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar said that in case outgoing president Srinivasan gets re-elected, he will not take charge of the cricketing body till a decision on a petition by the Cricket Association of Bihar (CAB), which is not recognised by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).

The court directed the matter to be listed for Monday.

"In the meanwhile the proposed annual general body meeting of BCCI may be held ... Election (too) may be held. In case Respondent 2 (Srinivasan) is elected he will not take the charge," the apex court said in its brief order.

The CAB had moved the Supreme Court Monday seeking to restrain Srinivasan from getting re-elected for a third term on the ground that his son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan is facing probe on the allegations of betting in the Indian Premier League (IPL).

CAB secretary Aditya Verma, in his application, also sought to restrain the BCCI from inducting Srinivasan in any of its committees as a member or allow him to participate in any of the proceedings in any capacity.

Initially Justice Patnaik observed that the BCCI AGM could be postponed till it (apex court) was seized of the matter but the suggestion was resisted by senior counsel C.A. Sundaram, who appeared for BCCI.

"Why are you so keen to hold election when Supreme Court is seized of the matter," Justice Patnaik said once again asking: "Why are you so keen."

However, Justice Patnaik modified the tentative order saying: "We will say election can take place, but you (Srinivasan) will not take the charge."

Apparently the court was unwilling to over-look a scenario wherein Meiyappan was under cloud on the one hand while Srinivasan was re-elected to preside over the apex cricketing body.

"If father-in-law is allowed to become the president (of BCCI) and son-in-law is involved (in the allegations of betting and passing team information) what will happen," asked Justice Patnaik.

Justice Patnaik was told by senior counsel Rohinton Nariman that a BCCI probe panel, comprising of two retired judges, had "specifically absolved me (Srinivasan) and seems to have cleared his son-in-law".

The court said that BCCI was a "public body", performing a public function and dealing with cricket thus its working had to be transparent and fair.

Feeling the heat of the alleged acts of misdemeanour of his son-in-law chasing him, Srinivasan's counsel Nariman told the court: "It is my daughter who chose my son-in-law. I can't even choose my son."

Appearing for the CAB, senior counsel Harish Salve told the court that cricket was a "national pride and national fashion" in the country and betting and spot-fixing was a far more serious matter having the potential of destroying the game.

He wondered that when the father-in-law is the president of the cricketing body then how could the investigation go on into "how deep this rot runs" which may even result in the termination of the Chennai Super Kings franchise.

Salve told the court about the "principle of institutional integrity" that was propounded by the apex court while quashing the appoint of the then CVC P.J. Thomas.

Salve said the BCCI controls players, umpires, represents India in international forums, enjoys tax benefits, and access to stadiums and no competitive cricket can take place in the country without its nod.

The pressure is mounting on Srinivasan not to seek a third year as BCCI chief in view of Meiyappan being charged by Mumbai police in the betting scandal.

Meiyappan, who is the principal of IPL side Chennai Super Kings, owned by Srinivasan's company India Cements, has been named in the 11,500-page charge sheet along with Bollywood actor Vindoo Dara Singh.

Srinivasan's name also figures among those charged by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in a corruption case involving YSR Congress party chief Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy.

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