New Delhi: Naryanswamy Srinivasan can finally afford a smile. In what may be considered as the biggest boost that he has received in months, the Supreme Court, on Tuesday, allowed the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) president to assume charge.
However, the apex court restrained Srinivasan from interfering, in any manner, with the functioning of the three-member panel constituted by it to probe the IPL spot-fixing scandal, allegedly involving his son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan.
The Supreme Court, while passing the order, said that it does not want to create an impression of any “judicial overreach” and wants to adopt a “detached attitude to preserve the dignity of the court.”
It also asked the three-member panel, comprising former Punjab and Haryana High Court chief justice Mukul Mudgal, additional solicitor general Nageswara Rao and Nilay Datta, vice-president of the Assam Cricket Association, to submit the inquiry report “preferably” within four months.
Though Srinivasan, re-elected the president unanimously on September 29, would only be happy to take charge of the BCCI, the three-member inquiry panel set up by the Supreme Court will remain a thorn in the flesh.
It’s worth noting that the BCCI-constituted inquiry panel of retired judges was struck down by the Bombay High Court.
The Supreme Court, however, rejected the arguments of senior counsel Abhisekh Manu Singhvi, appearing for the Cricket Association of Bihar (CAB), that Srinivasan shall not be allowed to assume charge until the probe was completed.
“We don’t want to give an impression that we are doing something which amounts to judicial overreach. We want to remain within the parameters of the dispute. The media also keeps reporting about judicial overreach.
“Let us be more detached to preserve the dignity of the court,” Justice A.K. Patnaik, heading the bench, observed.
Earlier, senior counsel Aryaman Sundaram appearing for the BCCI, and Singhvi agreed on the constitution of the three-member panel, which was suggested by the apex court on Monday.
“In view of the aforesaid constitution of the probe committee and respondent No. 2’s (Srinivasan) decision not to interfere with the IPL functioning , we direct that the respondent No. 2 is free to take charge.
“We, however, make it clear that respondent No. 2 or the Board chief shall not interfere with the functioning of the probe panel, but shall extend co-operation by providing all necessary materials.
“The probe panel will try and complete this inquiry as early as possible, and preferably within four months.
“The BCCI will bear all the expenses towards boarding, lodging and travel. Besides, each member would be given Rs 1 lakh for every working day as their allowance,” the bench said in its order.
The Supreme Court further clarified that its decision to set up an independent panel on the plea made by the CAB, through its secretary Aditya Verma, should not be construed as any lack of faith in the earlier panel comprising two retired judges of the Madras High Court, set up by the BCCI, but subsequently quashed by the Bombay High Court on technical grounds.
On September 27, Srinivasan was restrained by the apex court from taking charge as the BCCI chief, even in case of him being re-elected at the annual general meeting, on September 29, in Chennai. He was subsequently re-elected unopposed, but was yet to assume charge in view of the stay order.
The earlier probe panel of two retired judges appointed by the BCCI was quashed by the Bombay High Court, following which the Board had filed the Special Leave Petition (SLP).
A cross appeal was filed by CAB secretary Verma seeking an injunction to restrain Srinivasan from contesting the election until the SLP is disposed of.
The application also urged the apex court to pass an interim injunction order to the BCCI, restraining it from inducting Srinivasan into any committee or sub-committee of the Board until the Supreme Court disposes of the SLP relating to the spot-fixing controversy.
On August 7, the Supreme Court had refused to stay the July 30 High Court order terming the BCCI-appointed probe panel illegal.