New Delhi: It is very difficult to accept N Srinivasan's plea that there is no conflict of interest arising out of owning IPL team CSK and heading the BCCI, the Supreme Court today observed while putting some searching questions to him on the issue.
A bench headed by Justice T S Thakur said that conflict of interest is equal to bias and even though actual bias may not be in the case but even likelihood of bias is important.
It said purity of cricket has to be maintained and all persons at the helm of its affairs should be above suspicion.
"Taking all circumstances in account, it is very difficult to accept your contention that there is no conflict of interest. You being MD of India Cements, India Cements owning CSK, an official of CSK involved in betting and you heading the BCCI," the bench, also comprising Justice F M I Kalifulla, told Srinivasan's lawyer Kapil Sibal.
Sibal, however, submitted that by that standard, conflict of interest is prevalent in every sphere of activities and noted that Hockey Federation and FIFA allow it.
The bench proposed that action on the basis of Justice Mudgal report should be taken by the Board which will be constituted after the election.
It, however, asked who should be allowed to fight for BCCi elections. "BCCI must be free from any blemish if we allow it to
decide," it said, adding, "Who should be allowed to contest?. Can a person indicted by the Committee be allowed to contest the elections?".
The bench said that the cricket administrator "should be above board and above all the allegations" in order to decide the action to be taken on the basis of findings of the report.
"We are not saying that there is a fraud in getting franchise but once you become a team owner then your interest in team and as a cricket administrator pull you in opposite directions," the bench told Srinivasan.
"You are a contractor(being CSK owner) and also head of a contracting party(BCCI)," it said. The bench said that the issue has to be seen from the perspective of people for whom cricket is a passion and religion.