IPL Verdict: IPL players may get a lifetime ban from playing cricket

The Lodha panel, which was appointed by the Supreme Court of India, suspended the owners of IPL franchises Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals for a period of two years in connection with the betting and spot-fixing scandals in the IPL. This follows the IPL rules that state that a franchisee can be punished if the team owners are found guilty of betting or betting related activities.

In the light of recent verdict of the Supreme Court appointed committee headed by Justice MR Lodha, two Indian Premier League teams viz. Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals are suspended from participating in the Indian Premier League for next two years. Committee found teams’ involvement in the alleged sport fixing and betting scam during 2013 IPL.

Since, then various media are very much sympathetic towards the players of above-mentioned teams and published various articles on both print and online that, those players shall be given a fair chance to play for any other teams in the IPL by conducting a fresh OR separate auction for those players who are part of two suspended franchisees.

Therefore, the question here is whether such fresh auction for players of above two franchisees are legally valid. In my opinion, such an auction shall be conducted only for those players who were not part of alleged betting scam and sport fixing.

Though, the players are also a participants in the franchisee, whether each player has acted in a manner in violation of the operational rules needs to be examined. The present verdict has not covered this issue. Action can be taken only against the erring players accordingly, including lifetime ban.

Further, giving a fair chance to the players of Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and Rajasthan Royals (RR) is a question to moot, because no penalty can be given without giving them reasonable opportunity to defend themselves. As we know, suspension of two years will badly affect the career and future of many players, because, most of them may not even have thought of betting or match fixing at all. Not all the players can be tarnished black with the same allegation of improper conduct.

CSK and Rajasthan Royals banned from IPL for two years

Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and Rajasthan Royals (RR) were suspended for two years from the Indian Premier League (IPL) by the panel appointed by the Supreme Court of India. Earlier Supreme Court appointed a panel to address the issue IPL sport fixing and betting scandal.

Panel headed by Justice RM Lodha, in its verdict, which suspended two former champions Chennai Super Kings (CSK), and Rajasthan Royals (RR) of Indian Premier League (IPL), also suspended, Mr. Gurunath Meiyappan and Mr. Raj Kundra from any type of cricket matches for life after they were found guilty of betting in the T20 tournament.

Mr. Gurunath Meiyappan is the son-in-law of current ICC Chief, N. Srinivasan. Mr. Gurunath Meiyappan was the Team Principal of Chennai Super Kings (CSK), and Mr. Raj Kundra was the co-owner of Rajasthan Royals (RR).

Panel observed that, Meiyappan is involved in the sport fixing and betting scandal, and his conduct affected image of BCCI, the Indian Premier League (IPL) and the game of Cricket (Twenty 20/T20). Panel also observed that, Raj Kundra was placing bets through a known punter and was constantly in touch with bookies. Rajasthan Royals have damaged the faith of BCCI and the sport, Mr. Raj Kundra is found guilty of misconduct.

Earlier, Supreme Court had held that the allegation of betting against Meiyappan and Kundra stood proved and set up the three-member committee of its retired judges to determine the punishment for Meiyappan, who was the Chennai Super Kings (CSK) team Principal and Kundra, the co-owner of Rajasthan Royals (RR).

Rajasthan Royals (RR) won the inaugural event in 2008 under the captaincy of Australian spin legend Shane Warne, and Chennai Super Kings (CSK) are also the most successful team in the Indian Premier League (IPL), having won the tournament in 2010 and 2011, and finished runners-up in 2008, 2012, 2013 and 2015. Indian cricket team skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni (MS Dhoni) was the Caption for Chennai Super Kings (CSK) for all the IPL season.

Kerala pacer and former Indian fast bowler Sreesanth was a part of Rajasthan Royals, where a case is pending against Sreesanth before the Court at Delhi for alleged sport fixing in the 2013 Indian Premier League (IPL). Said case is posted to July 15, 2015 for framing charges in the 2013 Indian Premier League (IPL).

Burden of proof on Srinivasan to disprove the conflict of interest

Supreme Court put the burden of proof on BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India) president-in-exile N Srinivasan to prove that there was no conflict of interest involving him that came in the way of a probe into the sixth edition of Indian Premier League (IPL – 6).

Major part of the argument was on the conflict of interest. Kapil Sibal, counsel of Mr. Srinivasan was arguing that there was no finding either by the Justice Mukul Mudgal Committee or the Bombay high court against Srinivasan on the conflict of interest issue.

However, court had a different opinion on the conflict of interest issue and asked Mr. Srinivasan to lift the veil. While responding to the contentions on behalf of Mr. Srinivasan, the bench said that, it was up to Srinivasan to “demonstrate” that there was no conflict of interest as the question has arisen on admitted facts.

It was contented that, at no point of time was Srinivasan given an opportunity either before the Mudgal Committee or the high court to address the issue of conflict of interest, and the issue of conflict of interest was neither in the pleadings before the high court nor in the terms of reference of the Mudgal Committee and it was raised only in the apex court.

However, the bench showered questions on the appointment of the commission and even observed “was it on the concurrence of the BCCI President”. While Srinivasan’s counsel making submissions, bench asked him that, “Who was at the helm of the working committee meeting? Who was heading the meeting?”

When it was told that the Commission was not in place before the scandal, the bench observed that, “Do you constitute the commission depending upon the people in the complaint. You don’t have a prior commission. So, for different complaints, there would be different commissions.”

Why Chennai Super Kings can’t be banned from IPL

Supreme Court special bench of Justice T S Thakur and F M Kalifullah, while hearing the IPL scam case, asked BCCI that, whether Chennai Super Kings franchise should be disqualified in order to sort out the conflict of interest issues pertaining to the 2013 IPL corruption case. Court also directed BCCI that, the annual general meeting scheduled for December 17 should go ahead but by ‘standing aside’ the individual included in the investigation of the IPL corruption case.

Court observed that, the difference between Srinivasan’s duty as president of the BCCI and his interest as an owner of an IPL team is “obvious”. While hearing the case Supreme Court asked,

  • “If there are so many anomalies, why can’t the BCCI act according its rules and disqualify CSK?”
  • “What is more valuable to Mr Srinivasan? Is it his office or his team?”

Court also opined that the “dual role” of MS Dhoni as the captain of CSK and vice president of India Cements is a matter of “concern.” Hence, BCCI must put an end to all its controversies and move to conduct the election because “the life of the BCCI board is over”, the court said. The Board taking any decision around the findings of the Mudgal probe, the court said, “must be a board which is legitimately in place and not a board which exists due to fortuitous circumstances.”

Justice Thakur opened the hearings this morning, and said, that the distinction between Srinivasan and India Cements “is getting to a vanishing point.” Srinivasan’s counsel was asked several details about India Cements, the owners of CSK. The court wanted to know who the real owners of India Cements were, who formed its board and whose decision it was to invest Rs 400 crore (approximately $100 million at the time) in the CSK franchise as well as information about the shareholding pattern in both CSK and India Cements, with particular reference to Srinivasan and his members of his family.

For the first time since any legal proceedings began around the 2013 IPL corruption case, the BCCI accepted that Gurunath Meiyappan, son in law of Srinivasan, was a “team official” for CSK.

A court observation is not binding but it does indicate the court’s line of thinking in a case. The observation gives the party in question a chance to take the steps being advised.

IPL Sport-fixing, Srinivasan should step down: SC

Supreme Court on Thursday suggested that the present President-in-exile N. Srinivasan and his team should step down and not contest elections for the BCCI.

The Bench of Justices T.S. Thakur and Ibrahim Kalifulla, while responding to Mr. Sundaram’s submissions that the disciplinary committee of the Board would take whatever action that was necessary, pursuant to the Mudgal panel’s report told Senior counsel Aryama Sundaram, appearing for the BCCI: “Let there be a fresh blood in the BCCI and let the new body decide on what action to be taken on the basis of Justice Mukul Mudgal committee’s report.”

The court made it clear to the BCCI that if it wanted to take action as per the Mudgal panel report, only the new Board could do so. Otherwise, the Mudgal panel itself could be asked to suggest what punishment it could impose on those found guilty based on its own findings.

On behalf of the Cricket Association of Bihar, Senior counsel Nalini Chidambaram submitted that Mr. Srinivasan was as guilty of his son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan as per the BCCI Rules and the Anti Corruption Code for IPL. She said Mr. Srinivasan should be prevented from contesting the elections and his franchise Chennai Super Kings should be suspended. She said the findings of the Mudgal panel should be taken to its logical conclusion.

At this juncture, Justice Thakur asked Mr. Sundaram as to what action could be taken on the basis of the Mudgal report. When counsel replied that the punishment varied from suspension, termination, expulsion, reprimand and fine, Justice Thakur wondered whether the same persons in the Board, which was now on an extended tenure could be asked to take action.

Justice Thakur told the counsel “let all these people including Mr. Srinivasan step aside. Let them not stand for the elections. Let fresh blood in the Board decide on what action to be taken. The new Board is expected to act fairly.”

Justice Thakur said “we won’t say it is a happy situation but your term has ended and you continue due to fortuitous circumstances. But you still say the same Board will take action on the committee’s report including the question of disqualification of Chennai Super Kings.”

When Mr. Sundaram said the court could pass appropriate orders and there could be an external commission, Justice Thakur said “if we pass an order then we will be clutching at the functions of the Board. We will ask the Mudgal committee to go into the question of punishment.”