The Supreme Court on Monday delayed N. Srinivasan's return as the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) chief, saying there was "something seriously wrong" with the body that controls the sport in the cricket-crazy nation.
The 68-year-old cement tycoon, widely regarded as the most powerful man in world cricket, had been elected unopposed as the head of the BCCI for a third year on Sunday.
But the court barred Srinivasan from taking charge until it had ruled on a petition against him over a spot-fixing scandal in the Indian Premier League (IPL), a popular Twenty20 tournament run by the board.
The apex court bench headed by Justice A.K. Patnaik asked the BCCI to furnish its proposal under which Srinivasan will be allowed to discharge his duties mandated by the BCCI constitution while completely keeping off the probe into allegations against his son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan of involvement in spot fixing and betting in the lucrative Indian Premier League (IPL).
The court said this after the BCCI pleaded that Srinivasan be allowed to discharge certain responsibilities as the board chief.
"The fact that so many things are coming out of the IPL and BCCI, something is seriously wrong with the apex body controlling cricket," the court said during Monday's hearing.
"Why has the BCCI lost its credibility? The only thing to be seen is how Srinivasan being the president will affect the IPL probe."
The court also fixed October 7 as the next date of the hearing.
Senior counsel Harish Salve, appearing for Cricket Association of Bihar, said they could respond to the suggestion by the BCCI only after receiving the concrete proposal in writing.
The apex court was hearing a petition filed last week by Cricket Association of Bihar (CAB) secretary Aditya Verma pleading that Srinivasan be barred from contesting the BCCI presidential election. He also wanted the SC to issue an interim ban preventing Srinivasan from being a member of any committee of the Indian cricket board.
The petition was filed on the ground that Srinivasan's son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan is being probed for placing bets in the Indian Premier League (IPL) matches.
The apex court allowed Srinivasan to contest the election but said that he cannot discharge his duties.
In the course of the hearing, the court observed that "so many things are coming about IPL and something seems wrong with the apex cricketing body ... why it has lost its credibility", Justice Patnaik asked BCCI counsel C.A. Sundaram.
A cricket body in the eastern state of Bihar which is not affiliated to the BCCI had asked the court to prevent Srinivasan's return on moral grounds because his son-in-law had been charged in the scandal.
Srinivasan temporarily stepped aside as president in June when Meiyaappan was named in the scandal, and handed interim control to Jagmohan Dalmiya, a former head of the International Cricket Council.
Srinivasan has publicly distanced himself from his son-in-law, who was the team principal of the Chennai Super Kings, the IPL franchise owned by India Cements and captained by national skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
The Bihar association had argued in court that an internal BCCI probe panel had absolved Srinivasan, Meiyappan, India Cements and other IPL officials of wrongdoing even before police had filed charges in court.
The BCCI has not said who will head it until the Supreme Court delivers its verdict, or whether fresh elections will be held if Srinivasan is subsequently barred from holding office.