Mudgal panel's scope may be expanded

Apex court ignores BCCI recommendation

Mudgal panel's scope may be expanded

The Justice Mukul Mudgal panel, which probed spot fixing and betting in IPL-6, could be entrusted with a further inquiry into corruption charges against 13 persons including ousted BCCI president N Srinivasan and some prominent cricketers.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday indicated that it could hand over the probe to the panel, after seeking its assent, while showing little interest in the BCCI’s own committee, formulated a day earlier.

A bench of Justices A K Patnaik and F M I Kalifullah, however, decided to wait till Tuesday next for a formal response from the panel on what it might want to cover if it wanted to take up the responsibility and whose assistance it would like to have to carry out the investigation.

Reacting to the development, Justice Mudgal said, “We have given our consent (to counsel). It is subject to the Supreme Court’s approval.”

The court-appointed panel headed by the former chief justice of the Punjab and Haryana HC has given 13 names of persons against whom unverified allegations were made in a sealed envelope to the court.

The apex court had earlier spoken against handing over the probe into those charges to the police or the CBI, fearing it may affect the institutional autonomy of the BCCI.
Subsequently, the BCCI in its emergent meeting of April 20 had decided to suggest the names of former India all-rounder and cricket commentator Ravi Shastri, former Calcutta high court Chief Justice J N Patel and ex-CBI director R K Raghavan as members of the probe committee.

Senior advocate A M Singhvi, representing PIL petitioner Aditya Verma, secretary of the Cricket Association of Bihar, opposed the composition of the new probe committee, stating that all the three had a conflict of interest with the BCCI as Shastri was on the board’s pay-rolls, Patel was the brother-in-law of BCCI’s interim head Shivlal Yadav and Raghavan was secretary of a club affiliated to Tamil Nadu Cricket Association (TNCA).

In this scenario, the counsel said that he would prefer a probe by a special investigation team (SIT) or CBI.

On this, the court felt that handing over the probe to the CBI could mar reputation of the cricketer. Singhvi, on his part, responded by saying that the CBI, being an investigating agency, enjoyed the power of search and seizure.

The court, however, went ahead by pointing out that it can “endow” the panel with the investigating officers.

Senior advocate Gopal Subramaniam, appearing for the panel, sought time for seeking instruction if the committee would like to continue with the extended probe.
Meanwhile, the court allowed two counsel - one each of the BCCI and Srinivasan - to get transcripts of the statements Srinivasan, test captain M S Dhoni and IPL COO Sundar Raman made before the panel.

It asked the panel to submit tape-recordings to the SC’s Secretary General, who would make arrangement for hearing of those tapes prepared on December 18 and 19 last and January 6 as demanded by the BCCI.

The court directed that the entire exercise be kept confidential. “If anything goes out, cricket will be blackened,” the court said.

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