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IPL spot-fixing: HC says Srinivasan appointed BCCI's 'illegal' probe panel

The BCCI probe panel on IPL spot fixing and betting charges, struck down as "illegal", was set up in violation of its own rules, the Bombay High Court said, adding a prima facie case is made out that BCCI President-in- exile N Srinivasan was involved in its formation.

The two-member panel that went into the charges against India Cements Ltd, owners of IPL franchise Chennai Super Kings, its former Team Principal Gurunath Meiyappan, son-in-law of Srinivasan, and Raj Kundra, co-owner of Rajasthan Royals on July 28, had given a clean chit to all those against whom the probe was conducted.

The Court, which struck down as "illegal and unconstitutional" the panel in a severe blow to BCCI and Srinivasan, however, refrained from ordering a new committee of retired judges.

N Srinivasan
The HC has said that prima facie case is made out that BCCI President-in- exile N Srinivasan was involved in its formation of the probe panel that cleared CSK, RR and his son-in-law.

It held that forming a new probe commission was the prerogative of the Indian cricket board.

"The (probe) Commission was not duly constituted and was contrary to and in violation of the provisions of Rules 2.2 and 3 of Section 6 of the Operational Rules (of BCCI)," said Justices M S Sonak and S F Vajifdar in a 61-page verdict delivered yesterday which may thwart Srinivasan's bid to regain full control of the BCCI. 

The court was hearing a PIL filed by the Cricket Association of Bihar and its secretary Aditya Verma challenging the constitution of the commission set up by BCCI and IPL Governing Council after surfacing of the betting and fixing scandal.

"...These are indeed very serious allegations in a matter which is even more serious. On this issue the most that can be said in favour of the petitioner at this stage and in this proceeding is that it has made out a prima-facie case that Srinivasan was involved in the formation of the commission," the bench said.

The least that must be said in favour of the petitioner is that the respondents have not established that Srinivasan had no role to play in the formation of the commission, the judges said.

Armed with the panel's clean-chit, Srinivasan was expected to reclaim his position in the Cricket Board after stepping aside for the duration of the inquiry.

The panel comprised two former judges of the Madras High Court--Justices T Jayarama Chouta and R Balasubramanian.

"In our view the commission has been constituted contrary to the operational rules...," the judges observed while disposing of the PIL.

The court said rule 2.2 of the Operational Rules mandated presence of at least one member of the IPL Code of Behaviour Committee on the Commission. 

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