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Supreme Court slams Srinivasan for conflict of interest

Ashish Tripathi, Nov 24, 2014, DHNS: 1:08 IST
The Supreme Court on Monday slammed ICC Chairman N Srinivasan for ''presuming'' a clean chit on the basis of the Mudgal panel report, saying there was obvious conflict of interest between him heading the board and owning an IPL franchisee.PTI file photo
The Supreme Court on Monday slammed ICC Chairman N Srinivasan for “presuming” a clean chit on the basis of the Mudgal panel report, saying there was obvious conflict of interest between him heading the board and owning an IPL franchisee.

A bench of justices T S Thakur and F M I Kalifullah posed tough questions to Srinivasan asking if he could claim innocence as one of his team officials was found involved in betting activities by the Justice Mukul Mudgal-headed panel that probed allegations of corruption in the IPL 2013.

Appearing for Srinivasan, senior advocate Kapil Sibal submitted that the panel’s final report concluded he was not involved in match-fixing, betting or any kind of cover-up.
The court, however, raised the conflict of interest issue and asked, “Can BCCI president have his own team in the IPL?”

Sibal responded that the IPL team Chennai Super Kings was owned by the India Cements, which was a public limited company and Srinivasan was a mere share-holder.

“Your duty is to run the show. Let’s say if he is owner, he is organising the show. Is it not in conflict of interest? Your duty is to ensure a level-playing field and there is no match-fixing, no wrongdoing and no mischief,” the bench said.

Sibal again pointed out that all the decisions of the BCCI were not taken by the president and that IPL was a separate entity. “When a decision is taken by the BCCI, is he a mute spectator? He has no contribution to make?” the bench retorted.

Counsel then submitted that the Bombay High Court had recently dismissed a petition raising a conflict of interest.

“IPL is your creation, a by-product of the BCCI. When you created IPL, you wanted some people who are passionate to get involved. You have formed a mutual benefit society. There are millions of people in the country who are interested in the game,” said the bench.

“Nobody would enter the stadium if it is known that the match is already fixed. It is a gentleman’s game. Do you want to preside over liquidation of the game,” it asked. “The benefit of doubt must be given to the game than to an individual,” the bench added. Sibal again contended that there was nothing against Srinivasan in the panel’s report.

“You are presuming clean chit... please don’t go by the report that he was not involved in match-fixing, betting or scuttling the probe. Your official was involved in betting. It will affect your status in the BCCI,” the bench said, asking the counsel representing different parties to hammer out issues arising out the panel’s report.

The court fixed the matter for further hearing on Tuesday. Senior advocate Nalini Chidambaram, representing Cricket Association of Bihar, alleged that Srinivasan was involved in the cover-up.

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