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BCCI chief's son-in-law Meiyappan involved in betting: report in SC

New Delhi, Feb 10 (PTI): Gurunath Meiyappan, the son-in-law of India’s cricket boss N Srinivasan, was involved in betting during the Indian Premier League matches as a team official of Chennai Super Kings, according to a committee appointed by the Supreme Court.

“The role of Gurunath Meiyappan in Chennai Super Kings (CSK) as the team official stands proved and the allegations of betting and passing of information against Meiyappan stand proved,” a report of the three-member committee headed by former Punjab & Haryana Chief Justice Mukul Mudgal said in its report submitted Monday.

“However, the allegations of fixing require further investigation,” said the committee, which also has Additional Solicitor General N Nageshwar Rao and Assam Cricket Association member Nilay Dutta.

The committee's report comes ahead two days ahead of the auction in Bangalore for the high-profile IPL tournament this year and raises questions on the status of the CSK, as Meiyappan was the Team Principal of CSK, though Srinivasan claimed he was only a cricket enthusiast.

The team may attract provisions of termination clause under the Franchise Agreement which says that any franchisee, franchisee group company and/or any owner acts in any way that has adverse affect on the reputation of the League, Board of Control for Cricket in India/ IPL, BCCI and the game of cricket.

However, the BCCI has to decide whether the disciplinary action it may take could be a period of ineligibility or a ban on specific periods for the team or only a ban on the individual concerned.

”The committee is of the view that the material on record clearly indicates that Meiyappan was the face of CSK and the team official of CSK,” the report said, while rejecting Srinivasan's contention that his son-in-law was merely a cricket enthusiast.

The committee, which was asked to give a report, was appointed by a bench of justices A K Patnaik and J S Kehar to probe the allegation of betting and spot-fixing against Meiyappan and owners of Rajasthan Royals.

The report also dealt with the allegations of betting and spot fixing against Rajashthan Royals' Raj Kundra and said it need to be further investigated.

”Allegation of betting and spot fixing against Raj Kundra, team owner of Jaipur Cricket Private Limited, need to be further investigated,” the report added.

The court was hearing cross appeals filed by BCCI and Cricket Association of Bihar (CAB) challenging Bombay High Court's order, which had declared the BCCI's probe panel in the scandal as illegal.

The three-member committee also stated that after perusing the information provided by Delhi and Chennai police, FIR and chargesheet filed by Mumbai police, transcript of telephonic conversation, conclusions emerge that Meiyappan indulged in betting through Vindoo Dara Singh, who was in direct touch with the bookies and punters like Vikram Aggarwal.

“Bets placed by Meiyappan inter alia were not only in favour of CSK but also against it. In betting parlance, betting for and against a team is called hedging bet,” report said, and added that “Meiyappan also bet in matches of teams other then CSK”.

“In so far as the roles of Meiyappan and Bindoo Dara Singh are concerned, our conclusions are based on the testimony of the police and chargesheet and are not meant in any manner to pronounce on the issue as to whether Meiyappan and Singh are guilty of the offences charged with, which issue is entirely under the domain of the criminal court.

The Committee said it based its conclusions only on the objective facts gathered during the course of its probe and contents of the chargesheet and other documents produced by the investigating agency.

The committee also took note of the issue of conflict of interest raised against Srinivasan, the BCCI’s boss, saying it was serious but left it for the Supreme Court to consider it.

”While it is evident that the questions raised before us about conflict of interest are serious and may have large scale ramification on the functioning of cricket, we do not deem it proper to pronounce our opinion on this issue as it is not directly in our terms of reference.

”However, since several stake holders repeatedly expressed of this issue, we thought it proper to bring this issue to the attention of this court,” the report said.

While maintaining that further investigation is needed on allegation of betting and spot fixing against Raj Kundra, the report said “in so far as role of Kundra is concerned, the fact that he resorted to betting through Umesh Goenka in the IPL matches is evident from the statement of Mr Umesh Goenka under section 164 of CrPC recorded by the Delhi court.”

”We are clearly of the view that the statements under section 164 of CrPC made by Goenka clearly required further and serious investigation, as Raj Kundra and his wife Shilpa Shetty are part owners of Rajasthan Royals,” the report said.

”Allegations of betting by Kundra and Shetty, who are part owners of Rajasthan Royals, if found proved would constitute a serious infraction of section 2.2.1 and 2.14 of IPL operational rules for bringing the game into disrepute, articles 2.2.1, 2.2.2 and 2.2.3 of the IPL anti corruption code for Acts of betting and articles 2.4.4 of IPL code of conduct for players and team officials, for bringing disrepute to the game of cricket,” the report said.

The committee also recommended a slew of measures to prevent malpractices in cricket and said “it is of the view that it is essential that to deal with the malaise of spot or match-fixing, senior iconic players with unimpeachable integrity such as Sachin Tedulkar, Rahul Dravid, Sourav Ganguly, VVS Laxman, Venkatesh Prasad and Anil Kumble should advise and caution the various team and in particular the younger players and debutants about the pitfalls of such malpractices.

The committee also gave a ten-point suggestion for making cricket a “cleaner” game and eliminate evil of spot and match fixing.