THE Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to ban the remaining Indian Premier League (IPL) matches in the backdrop of the spot-fixing controversy, but not before putting the blame for the rot on the lackadaisical attitude of the Board of Control for Cricket in India.
While taking up a PIL, the apex court asked the one-man BCCI commission of inquiry into match-fixing to submit its report within 15 days. The Board had given no deadline to Ravi Sawani, director of the BCCI's anti-corruption unit, to submit his report while assigning him the task on Sunday.
A vacation bench comprising Justice BS Chauhan and Justice Dipak Misra observed that there was definitely some kind of irregularity which had crept into the T20 league and asked the BCCI to clean its stable to maintain and sustain the respect for the 'gentleman's game'. The apex court's stinging observations on the BCCI's handling of the IPL came on a day on which the spot-fixing episode turned murkier with more arrests, including a bookie, for their alleged involvement in the scandal. "The Board should ensure that the guilty does not escape… The problem is lackadaisical attitude which must stop now,” Justice Misra observed while directing the BCCI to take action as per rules.
The court, however, left it to the BCCI to take action against the errant players/ teams and disposed of the PIL seeking the court's intervention in the matter.
In the backdrop of the arrest of Sreesanth and a few other Rajasthan Royals players for their alleged involvement in spot-fixing, Lucknow-based Sudarsh Awasthi had sought a ban on the rest of the IPL matches and a probe into "irregularities” in the tournament.
The bench directed the commission to specifically include in its report the irregularities noticed during matches and the aberrant behaviour of players. After the report is submitted, the BCCI should take action against teams and individual players as per rules, the court ordered.
Though the petitioner had sought to stop the matches, the court wasn't inclined to do that. "If five advocates are found guilty of misconduct, the profession cannot be banned,” the court observed.
The hearing on Tuesday afternoon started with the court grilling Awasthi's counsel Vishnu Jain on his request to stop the matches but the focus of the hearing changed after the bench noticed that BCCI counsel Ranjit Kumar was present.
Referring to the petitioner's prayer to constitute a Special Investigation Team for probe, the court asked Kumar as to what the BCCI had done about it.
Kumar said the Delhi Police had arrested some players and was also investigating the case. "We are not on what police had done… What have you done in this regard?” the court asked.
Kumar said a one-man inquiry commission had been constituted as per BCCI rules and action would be taken accordingly.
The court left it to the BCCI to take action against the errant players/ teams and disposed of the PIL seeking the court's intervention in the matter
The Supreme Court has hit the nail on the head by asking the BCCI to ensure that cricket remains a 'gentleman's game'. The strong words that the apex court has reserved for the BCCI's poor handling of IPL affairs are reason for the cricket Board to set its house in order.
Sparing none of those behind the spot-fixing scandal, as the court has ordered, would be the first step in this direction.