The BCCI probe panel may have given a clean chit to the co-owners of Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals in the IPL spot-fixing scandal, but they seem to have stoked controversy by getting on the wrong side of both the Sports Ministry and Mumbai police.
The Sports Ministry on Monday made it clear that it did not give much importance to the verdict and would rather wait for the police probe to get over.
"The BCCI might have cleared them but I think the Indian cricket board should wait for the police probe to get over," said Sports Secretary P K Deb in New Delhi.
The Mumbai police probing the IPL betting scandal, meanwhile, rejected the charge of not cooperating with the BCCI panel, saying its investigating officer could not depose before it for want of legal provisions.
The denial comes a day after a two-member panel that probed the allegations against BCCI's 'president in exile' N Srinivasan's son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan, India Cements Ltd, which owns IPL franchise Chennai Super Kings, and Jaipur IPL Pvt Ltd, owner of Rajasthan Royals, gave them all a clean chit on account of lack of evidence of wrongdoing.
A senior crime branch officer said that the BCCI panel had on June 28 asked Mumbai police in writing to send its investigating officer to depose before it.
"We sought to know under which procedure we should send our IO for deposition before a private panel," the officer said speaking on condition of anonymity.
Under the CrPC, an officer investigating in a case is answerable only to the court, he said.
The Mumbai Police, in response to the BCCI's request had on July 5 written a letter to its General Manager R S Shetty, which read, "Through your letter on June 28, you had requested to depute an officer conversant with the investigation of the case to be present before the probe commission constituted by BCCI.
"As the case is still under investigation, you are requested to quote relevant legal provisions under which the investigation or any other officer from the investigation agency can be called before the probe commission," it said.
The crime branch officer said since there was no response from the BCCI to the Mumbai police's letter, the question of non-cooperation does not arise.
Joint Police Commissioner (Crime) Himanshu Roy said, "The BCCI panel does not have legal sanctity and an investigation officer can depose only before a competent court. Also, BCCI's letter got delayed. Though the letter was dated June 28, it was delivered to us on July 4 and the next day, we had responded to it."
Apart from deposition of the investigating officer, if the BCCI had sought probe details, they would have considered the request, he added. "We could have shared some evidence that would not affect our probe," said Roy, under whose supervision the IPL betting case is being probed.
In its letter to the Mumbai Police Commissioner on June 28, the BCCI had stated, "The BCCI has filed complaint before the Commission (the cricket board's panel) charging Mr Gurunath Meiyappan of conduct which has brought disrepute to the game and to IPL. In support of this complaint, we have filed various news reports which in turn cite police sources as the basis for their published information."
The letter further stated, "We request you to kindly depute an officer of rank who is conversant with the investigation along with relevant records to be present on the 7th of July 2013 at Hotel ITC Gardenia, Bangalore so that the Commission can gather the full details and record the facts as to found out by your department. The BCCI will be happy to bear all costs."
Mumbai police crime branch so far has arrested 19 accused in its IPL betting case, including Meiyappan, Bollywood actor Vindoo Dara Singh and bookies.
The BCCI panel, comprising former high court judges T Jayaram Chouta and R Balasubramanian had yesterday submitted its report to the BCCI Working Committee which met in Kolkata yesterday.
Meiyappan was the team principal of Chennai Super Kings when the scandal surfaced. There was a major crisis in cricket board when Meiyappan was arrested on charges of betting on May 26.
"There is no evidence of any wrongdoing found by the judges against Raj Kundra, India Cements and Rajasthan Royals. The report will now be forwarded to the IPL Governing Council which will take a final decision when it meets on August 2 in New Delhi," BCCI vice-President Niranjan Shah had told reporters.
Since the panel's order is binding on the BCCI, it is clear that Srinivasan might return as Board chief. Srinivasan could stage a comeback as BCCI chief as early as August 2 when the Board's Working Committee and the IPL Governing Council meet in New Delhi to take a final call on the issue.
The IPL spot-fixing scandal broke out when India pacer S Sreesanth, along with two other Rajasthan Royals players Ajit Chandila and Ankeet Chavan and 11 bookies, was arrested for alleged spot-fixing in the IPL.
The contracts of the tainted players were terminated by their franchise, which also lodged a criminal complaint against them.
The BCCI today defended the report of its panel which inquired into the IPL spot-fixing scandal, saying they could not depend on the police report since the two-member commission was already on the job.
"I think we can't depend on police report as we had already constituted a commission and whatever the commission said is final," BCCI Vice-President Niranjan Shah said when questioned as to why the BCCI didn't wait for Mumbai and Delhi police to complete their probe before acquitting N Srinivasan of any wrondoing.
Shah reiterated that two-member probe panel comprising of Retd Justice Jayaram Chouta and Retd Justice R Balasubramanian had to continue the probe with whatever "available material".
"I think BCCI can't do anything about it (on reports that Mumbai Police didn't co-operate with panel) as we have no control over it. So, we have to live with whatever material that is available to us," Shah said.
However, Shah maintained that if any one of the accused is found guilty during further investigations by the police authorities, BCCI will take immediate cognisance.
"If anyone is convicted, automatically the BCCI will take notice and step in to take necessary action," Shah said.
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