Betting in IPL by Meiyappan was like insider trading: SC

Supreme Court says betting by Gurunath Meiyappan was like insider trading wherein even if he was not placing bets in his own name, he was passing on the information to bookies

New Delhi: The Supreme Court Tuesday said that betting by Gurunath Meiyappan - son-in-law of the sidelined BCCI president N. Srinivasan - was like insider trading wherein even if he was not placing bets in his own name, he was passing on the information to bookies.

"It is like an insider trading. Even if Gurunath Meiyappan may not be betting in his own name, he was passing on the information to bookies," said the apex court bench of Justice T.S.Thakur and Justice Fakkir Mohamed Ibrahim Kalifulla as senior counsel Harish Salve told the court that Meiyappan was in the know of every move of the IPL franchise Chennai Super Kings (CSK).

The court's observation came as Salve appearing for the petitioner Cricket Association of Bihar told the court: "Having access to the players, Gurunath Meiyappan was privy to the strategy to be followed in the game and the way team would pursue a match."

Targeting Srinivasan for covering up the actions of Meiyappan, Salve told the court "What is important is that he (Meiyappan) was betting" and BCCI has set very high standards for themselves for dealing with corruption. They (BCCI's Anti-Corruption Code) come with very heavy military booths on betting."

"But even then betting will continue, the issue is (that the) people associated with it (BCCI and IPL) should be clean and must stay away" from such prohibited activities, the court observed as Salve read to the court the Anti-Corruption Code of BCCI.

Salve also told the court that BCCI's Anti-Corruption Code extended to the IPL in an attempt to nail Srinivasan on account of Meiyappan's involvement in betting as concluded by the Mudgal Committee in its final report.

Gurunath Meiyappan
Gurunath Meiyappan

The Anti-Corruption Code of the BCCI says that an official of the cricketing body would be accountable even if his guest indulges in activities that violates the code. Salve pointing to the stringent provision said that Meiyappan has been described as a "Team Official" in the Mudgal Committee report and Director, India Cements, in the Feb 3 BCCI letter to the Mudgal probe panel relating to 2011 accreditation of CSK officials.

In response to a query by the court that BCCI has said that it be allowed to act on the matter, Salve told the court "conflict of interest looms large (on Srinivasan), they have disabled themselves from judging the case. Now they are saying that punish Meiyappan but spare CSK.

As Salve sought to pin down Srinivasan, the court said that one consequence of Mudgal Committee report is that CSK should go but "there is no direct finding against Srinivasan that he was involved in the act of corruption".

Addressing the court's query, Salve said, "There are acts of Srinivasan which are in the teeth of BCCI rules and anti-corruption code. He has taken a stand that amounts to a cover-up."

"India Cements did take a stand that Gurunath Meiyappan is a cricket enthusiast, they may regret taking that stand, but they took it" Salve told the court in his continued attempts to nail Srinivasan.

He said that this was the stand taken by the probe committee on the basis of statements made before it by Srinivasan, M.S. Dhoni and others of India Cements.

"Srinivasan has deemed to have taken a stand as he is the vice-chairman and the managing director of the India Cements", the court observed referring to Salve's submissions.

Salve told the court that stand taken by India Cements was rejected by the probe panel as a hogwash. The court was also told that cricketer Mahendra Singh Dhoni wears three hats - one as the captain of Indian Cricket team, second as the captain of CSK and third as the vice-president India Cements.

The court observed that senior counsel Mahesh Jethmalani had earlier (Monday) told the court that Meiyappan did not have shares in India Cements nor was its employee or held any other position.

Salve also pointed to the stand taken by Chief Operating Officer of IPL Sunder Raman giving an "ambiguous" reply to the probe panel on the ownership of the CSK.

"Had it been on the ownership of the Kolkata Knight Riders or Rajasthan Royals, he would have come with a definite answer in no time but was ambiguous on CSK", Salve told the court pointing to Raman's apparent hesitation to give a forthright answer.

At the end of the hearing, Salve's plea to the court to make public the entire final report of the Mudgal Committee was resisted both by the BCCI and Srinivasan.

Counsel C.A. Sundram, appearing for the BCCI, and Kapil Sibal, appearing for Srinivasan, opposed the plea contending that the hearing should be confined to the role of Srinivasan, Meiyappan, Raj Kundra and Sunder Raman for now.

The court is hearing Cricket Association of Bihar, BCCI, Srinivasan, and others on the Mudgal Committee report.

The court has, so far, exonerated Srinivasan of betting or match-fixing in 2013 IPL or scuttling probe into the allegations, has indicted his son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan of betting.

The court has also recorded some findings about Rajasthan Royals co-owner Raj Kundra. Hearing would continue Thursday.

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