The future of the Indian Premier League will be at stake when the Supreme Court-appointed Justice Lodha Committee announces its decisions in the IPL betting and spot-fixing case in Delhi today.
If the committee decides that a suspension or ban is applicable to the Chennai Super Kings and the Rajasthan Royals for the sins of their owners – Gurunath Meiyappan and Raj Kundra respectively - then the IPL would be reduced to six teams in 2016. It’s hard to see how the tournament would be played in that situation.
That is the nuclear option though, and it is more likely the committee will take a less stringent view of the transgressions.
To recap: The Lodha Committee, comprising of retired Chief Justice of India, RM Lodha, and two retired Supreme Court judges - Ashok Bhan and R Raveendran - was given a wide mandate by the Supreme Court in January.
The committee was given three tasks:
a) to decide punishment for those found guilty by the Justice Mukul Mudgal committee’s investigation,
b) to carry out an investigation into allegations the Mudgal panel recommended be further investigated, and
c) to examine the way the BCCI functions and to suggest changes and improvement to make it more transparent and more responsive to the public at large.
Over the last six months, the committee has interviewed a number of players and officials, past and present, as well as a number of journalists. The basis of their investigations has been an 82-item questionnaire that seeks to penetrate to the heart of the BCCI.
However, in today’s proceedings, the committee is expected only to deal with the first issues – the quantum of punishment. Those in the firing line today are:
1) Meiyappan, whom the Mudgal panel found was a de-facto owner of CSK and was guilty of betting.
2) Kundra, the co-owner of the Rajasthan Royals, who was also found guilty of betting.
Both men face the prospect of being banned from cricket for life.
3) The Chennai Super Kings because the franchise can be punished if an owner is found guilty of betting and spot-fixing. IPL regulations allow for the franchise to be suspended or banned, which is the sword hanging over CSK. Given that MS Dhoni, India’s ODI and T20 captain, also captains CSK, the stakes could not be higher. Alternatively, the committee could choose to fine the franchise.
4) Rajasthan Royals are in the same spot as CSK thanks to Kundra. Logic suggests that the punishments for both franchises will be the same but that is, of course, not certain.
5) Sundar Raman, the IPL’s COO, who has been investigated by the Lodha committee over his role in the 2013 betting scandal. The committee’s findings on Raman could be disclosed today as well.
The Lodha committee verdict is the latest step in the case that began when Aditya Verma, the secretary of the Cricket Association of Bihar, filed a case in the Bombay High Court claiming the BCCI’s investigation that completely cleared Meiyappan and Kundra in the IPL betting case was a sham. While the High Court stopped short of saying the investigation was a cover-up, it struck the investigation down on the grounds it violated the BCCI’s own rules.
The board had the option of appointing a fresh probe but instead chose to appeal the verdict to the Supreme Court, which then set up the Justice Mudgal panel to investigate the allegations.
But today’s announcement will not bring the matter to a close. The question of BCCI reforms remain, as do the allegations against a number of players, whose names have been submitted to the court in a sealed envelope. The Supreme Court decided to deal with the administrators first and the players later, so this case could well go on for a few more years.
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Updated Date: Jul 14, 2015 12:00:25 IST