In a fresh setback to BCCI president N Srinivasan, the Supreme Court on Monday proposed a new probe panel to investigate the IPL spot-fixing scandal and extended the hearing of the case by a day. The apex court also ruled that Srinivasan would not discharge his duties as BCCI president, but said he could do so if he keeps away from all matters related to the IPL.
While hearing the petition filed by the Cricket Association of Bihar (CAB), the Supreme Court proposed that the new probe panel be headed by former Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court Mukul Mudgal and also include senior Supreme Court advocate Nageshwar Rao and Nilesh Dutta. BCCI has suggested the names of Arun Jaitley and Assam Cricket Board vice-president Niloy Dutta to be on the probe panel.
The court deferred the hearing on the PIL filed against Srinivasan for Tuesday asking both BCCI and CAB their views on the new committee.
"We want this committee to probe the spot-fixing and this committee will report to us," said A.K. Patnaik, one of two judges hearing the case. Patnaik also told the court that the BCCI's lawyers must reply to the proposal at the next hearing on Tuesday.
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The probe will be separate from continuing investigations by police, who have filed charges in court against a string of officials, players and bookmakers in the scandal.
The Supreme Court, however, categorically said that Srinivasan can't resume office until a verdict in the case is announced. Srinivasan is also one of the accused in the charge-sheet filed in the Jagan Reddy case.
On September 27, the Supreme Court had allowed the Board's AGM to go ahead but with a rider that Srinivasan cannot take charge even if he is re-elected for a third year as BCCI chief.
The apex court bench headed by Justice Patnaik had said that in case Srinivasan gets re-elected, he will not take charge till the court decides on a petition by the CAB, which is not recognised by the Board of Control for Cricket in India.
Srinivasan, was on September 29, elected unopposed as president for a third year at the BCCI's Annual General Meeting in Chennai. He was supported by all the six South zone associations, thus taking out the possibility of a contest for the top post. The AGM also saw Srinivasan's loyalists being rewarded with plum posts in the Board.
A day after the Board's AGM, the apex court asked probing questions about the BCCI's falling credibility while stalling Srinivasan's return. "The fact that so many things are coming out of the IPL and BCCI, something is seriously wrong with the apex body controlling cricket," the court had said. "Why has the BCCI lost its credibility? The only thing to be seen is how Srinivasan being the president will affect the IPL probe."
The BCCI has not said who will head it until the Supreme Court delivers its verdict, or whether fresh elections will be held if Srinivasan is subsequently barred from holding office.
Srinivasan, who had stepped aside in the light of his son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan's involvement in the IPL betting scandal, has been under fire to quit his post since.
CAB secretary Aditya Verma had on September 23 moved the Supreme Court seeking to restrain Srinivasan from getting re-elected as the president of the BCCI on the ground that Meiyappan is facing probe on the allegations of spot fixing and betting.
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.
Verma says he doesn't have any agenda and his only interest is that BCCI is run as transparently as it was before Srinivasan's appointment as president.
The Bihar association had argued in court that an internal BCCI probe panel had absolved Srinivasan, Meiyappan, India Cements and other IPL officials of wrongdoing even before police had filed charges in court.
"If I am fighting, it is not because I want any position or power. I am no politician. I was a cricketer and my heart bleeds to see such blatant misuse of power at the helm. What surprised me most was that even though the law enforcers were still working on the fixing issue and hadn't filed the charge sheet till last week, the two eminent retired judges — appointed by the BCCI — seemed to have a magic wand that helped them solve the mess in a matter of days," Verma had told Mail Today in late September.
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 has distanced himself from Meiyappan, who was among the 22 people formally charge sheeted by the investigators.
The charge sheet does not mention any instance of spot-fixing in the IPL matches. All the accused have been charged with cheating, gambling, conspiracy and forgery.
Srinivasan's name also figures among those charged by the Central Bureau of Investigation in a corruption case involving YSR Congress party chief YS Jaganmohan Reddy.