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SC appoints Gavaskar as interim BCCI chief

SC appoints Gavaskar as interim BCCI chief, allows CSK, RR to play in IPL7; no role for N Srinivasan

Mumbai:The Supreme Court installed former India captain Sunil Gavaskar as the interim head of the troubled Board for Cricket Control of India (BCCI) Friday after forcing the scandal-tainted incumbent N. Srinivasan from office.

Three days after warning Srinivasan they would order him to stand down if he tried to cling to power, a panel of judges announced that 64-year-old Gavaskar would take the helm of the Board of Control for Cricket in India.

Gavaskar would be made “interim working president” of the BCCI, said the court, an appointment which places him in charge of the upcoming edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL).

The Twenty20 competition has been embroiled in allegations of illegal betting and spot-fixing, including against Srinivasan’s son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan.

There was no immediate reaction from Gavaskar to Friday’s announcement but he has already indicated that he is willing to take on the task of leading the most powerful body in world cricket.

A lawyer for the board meanwhile said that the BCCI “fully endorse(d) the order passed by the Supreme Court today”, saying it was in line with its own proposals to the judges.

In its announcement, the court also said that the Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals — the teams at the centre of allegations of illegal betting and spot-fixing in last year’s competition — would be allowed to take part in this year’s IPL.

The same panel of judges said Thursday that both sides should be barred from the eight-team tournament which starts in Abu Dhabi next month.
These are highlights of the Supreme Court’s observations today:

  • As interim president of BCCI, Gavaskar will exercise all powers concerning IPL
  • Senior-most Vice President of BCCI will look after other affairs of the Board
  • Will not stop IPL7
  • Will not stop functioning of IPL7
  • Will not stop any player from playing in IPL7
  • Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals to play in IPL7
  • Except players and commentators, no other employee of India Cements or its subsidiary or associate companies will participate in any duties or functioning of BCCI
  • Gavaskar to decide whether Sundar Raman, CEO of IPL, shall continue or another official engaged

In its defence, the BCCI had also argued today that India skipper M S Dhoni has been wrongly villified by media after yesterday’s proceedings in which “false allegations” were levelled against him.

Relief for BCCI:

The verdict was a huge relief to the board, with reports estimating that the total loss resulting from the teams’ suspension could have been as much as 1.5 billion dollars.

“We told the court that at this juncture, especially since everything is unverified, we could not stop any team in playing in the IPL,” C. A. Sundaram, one of the board’s lawyers, told reporters after the hearing.

“It would have affected the tournament as well as millions of cricket-loving public. We are very happy that the court has not passed any order that would have interrupted the tournament.”

While there was no immediate reaction from Srinivasan, Sundaram reiterated that the outgoing president had been willing to “stand aside” during the investigations which have ensnared his son-in-law.

The judges were seemingly unimpressed by Srinivasan’s offer, aware that he stood aside last year before resuming his duties and then winning re-election.

The panel is looking at a damning report it commissioned into wrongdoing in last year’s IPL when former Test bowler Shanthakumaran Sreesanth was caught deliberately bowling badly while playing for the Rajasthan Royals in return for thousands of dollars from bookmakers.

Released in February, the report also concluded that Srinivasan’s son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan — who was the team principal of the Chennai Super Kings — could be guilty of illegal betting on IPL games.

The Super Kings are owned by India Cements, whose managing director is Srinivasan. The team are captained by India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

This year’s IPL begins in Abu Dhabi on April 16, with the opening round of matches having been relocated to the United Arab Emirates as India is holding a general election next month.

The court said that Gavaskar would have to cease his work as a television commentator to avoid any conflict of interest in his new role, adding that the BCCI must “adequately compensate” him for loss of earnings.

Gavaskar, the first batsman to score 10,000 Test runs, has carved out a career as a commentator in recent years and sometimes spiky columnist. He has regularly called for India coach Duncan Fletcher to be sacked.

Srinivasan had been regarded as the most powerful man in world cricket and is still due to take over in July as head of the International Cricket Council.

With massive TV audiences, India generates almost 70 per cent of the game’s revenues and several of the smaller Test nations are heavily dependent on its largesse.Sunil Gavaskar will be president of BCCI for duration of IPL7, will replace N. Srinivasan

The story so far:

Srinivasan offered to step down as the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) on Thursday in the wake of a fixing and betting scandal surrounding the Indian Premier League.

The scandal surfaced in 2013, when former test bowler Shanthakumaran Sreesanth and two other local cricketers, Ankeet Chavan and Ajit Chandila, all playing for the Rajasthan franchise, were arrested on suspicion of taking money to concede a fixed number of runs.

Later Srinivasan’s son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan was arrested after one of the accused actor Vindo Dara Singh implicated him in betting.

BCCI formed a two-member inquiry panel of retired judges to investigate the alleged involvement of Meiyappan. The panel could not find any evidence of wrongdoings on Meiyappan and Raj Kundra, co-owner of Rajisthan Royals. Sreesanth, who had denied any wrongdoing, was subsequently banned for life.

Raising suspicion over the investigation done by panel formed by BCCI, secretary of Cricket Association of Bihar, Aditya Veram, filed a PIL in Bombay High Court against the probe panel. The Bombay High Court declared BCCI’s probe commission “illegal”.

BCCI moved to Supreme Court against High Court’s order.

In October 2013, the apex Court commissioned a probe panel headed by retired judge Mukul Mudgal, giving four months time to submit the report. During this period, Meiyappan accepted his involvement in the scandal before Mumbai Police.

Local media claimed Meiyappan was chief executive of the Chennai Super Kings but the company that owns the IPL franchise, India Cements, said he was merely a member of team management.

Srinivasan, set to take over as chairman of the International Cricket Council (ICC) board in July, heads India Cements.

In February 2014, the Mudgal committee submitted the report and a sealed envelope that contained sensitive information in connection with some of the top Indian players. Following which, BCCI appealed to the apex Court not to reveal the information of the sealed envelope.

In response to Mudgal report, earlier this week, the Supreme Court called on Srinivasan to leave his post at the BCCI to ensure a fair investigation into the scandal in which his son-in-law, Gurunath Meiyappan, has been indicted for illegal betting.

On Thursday, the Supreme Court put forward former captain Sunil Gavaskar as Srinivasan’s replacement and said the Chennai and Rajasthan franchises should be kept out of the IPL pending the completion of probe due to their role in the scandal.

Legal sports betting in India is confined to horse racing.

 

* Deccan Chronicle DC/Reuters

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