Cricket's purity must be maintained, SC tells Indian board

New Delhi: They are calling it a day of double whammy, the Supreme Court — in two significant observations, making it clear yesterday it was hell bent on cleaning out corruption from cricket.

N Srinivasan
N Srinivasan 

In the apex court, the judges raised the heat on suspended BCCI president N Srinivasan and told him to "lift the veil" on issues of conflict of interest that emerged out of his being the BCCI head and the chairman of India Cements that owned IPL franchisee Chennai Super Kings.

In another observation, the country's apex court came down heavily on counsels representing Delhi Police, criticising them for not being able to get their papers in order for arguments to proceed in the IPL spot fixing case in which suspended cricketers S Sreesanth, Ajit Chandila, Ankeet Chavan and others, including underworld don Dawood Ibrahim, were charge sheeted.

But the arguments in court number 1 — expectedly — drew more attention where the judges told Kapil Sibal, former minister and counsel for Srinivasan, that they were not convinced by his arguments that "conflict of interests are common in every sport in India".

The judges said it was important that people at the top of the Board's hierarchy should be taint-free. "Purity of cricket has to be maintained and all persons at the helm of its affairs should be above suspicion. Is that happening?" The hint was clearly at Srinivasan who is the managing director of India Cements, which owns the CSK.

The court observed — despite Sibal's vociferous arguments that Srinivasan's rivals were only trying to remove him from BCCI — that it was difficult to accept there was no conflict of interest. Worse, Gurunath Meiyappan, Srinivasan's son-in-law and a former high-ranking official of CSK, was indicted of betting on his own team in 2013.

Yesterday, it reminded Sibal and his lawyers what it had said earlier: "BCCI are the contractor and head of the contracting party also. Now this ownership of a team raises conflict of interest. The President of BCCI has to run the show but you have a team which raises questions and it can't be wished away."

"In fact, it vindicates the conflict of interest that arises when you have to decide upon the quantum of penalty against a team," the judges told Sibal, who had argued that the board should be permitted to decide on the penalty against CSK and Rajasthan Royals.

Sibal said Cricket Association of Bihar's Aditya Verma was making accusations to keep Srinivasan away from BCCI. "They only want to remove him. They are not espousing the cause of cricket. They are espousing something else," Sibal argued. But the arguments made no impact on the judges.

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