|CSK captain MS Dhoni
Bangalore, Feb. 11: In a “best case” scenario, some associated with Chennai Super Kings (CSK) are looking at a penalty, possibly “points being docked”.
The “worst case” scenario is, well, terrible: termination of the franchise agreement by the IPL’s governing council, after an “order” from the Supreme Court.
Nobody expects the governing council to act on its own, as it has been handpicked by the Board of Control for Cricket in India president, Narayanswamy Srinivasan, face No. 1 of India Cements, the CSK owners.
“The matter is sub judice.… It’s not for us or anybody else in the board to act.... We’ll be guided by what the Supreme Court says,” IPL chairman Ranjib Biswal said.
Everyone’s attention, then, is on the Supreme Court, which will take up the Justice (retd) Mukul Mudgal committee’s report on March 7.
That one member of the three-man committee, senior advocate Nilay Dutta, gave a separate report has come as manna from heaven for CSK.
While Justice Mudgal and L. Nageswar Rao, the additional solicitor-general of India, have concluded that Gurunath Meiyappan (Srinivasan’s son-in-law) placed bets and passed on “information”, Dutta hasn’t reached a definite conclusion.
That is set to be exploited for all its worth.
The “optimism” in the Srinivasan camp notwithstanding, it’s highly unlikely that the Supreme Court will not take cognisance of a report by a committee it appointed.
“Our legal team has begun working overtime. We have almost a month to prepare our response to the committee’s findings. The majority view is on record, but can Dutta’s observations be disregarded?
“Of course, it will be a different story if the tapes in possession of the Mumbai police scientifically prove that Meiyappan placed bets, an illegal act,” somebody holding a very senior position in CSK told The Telegraph.
Speaking at the hotel where the IPL VII-IX auction will be held tomorrow and on Thursday, the gentleman added: “We can’t get away from the fact that Meiyappan’s IPL accreditation showed him as a ‘Team Official’ in the last four editions. But he didn’t take day-to-day decisions.
“Then, much is being made of Meiyappan’s ‘Team Owner’ accreditation in the first two years (2008 and 2009) of the IPL. At that time, when the product was new, such accreditations were issued across the franchises.”
Not convincing at all, but the ball is now in Supreme Court territory.
One should add that had the IPL been run professionally, with accountability, heads would have rolled for accreditations being issued left, right and centre.
According to a former president of the board, who didn’t wish to be identified, three possibilities exist.
(a) The Supreme Court can call for further investigation, giving Srinivasan and CSK breathing space; (b) It can ask Srinivasan to choose between remaining the board president and owning CSK; (c) It can direct the IPL’s governing council to terminate CSK’s franchise agreement and auction the team along with the players.
“I don’t see any other possibility. The Supreme Court is the ultimate authority and can pass whatever order it wishes to. Unless pushed to act, the board won’t do anything on its own,” the former president maintained.
It’s interesting that Meiyappan appeared before the Justice Mudgal committee, but didn’t depose; Vindoo Dara Singh, also at the centre of the scandal, didn’t bother to turn up.
Predictably, the committee’s report featured “prominently” during informal discussions between the owners/representatives of the seven other IPL franchises.
Some wondered if CSK would actually be thrown out. Others wanted to know just what would then happen to the Mahendra Singh Dhonis. There were some who felt “kuch nahin hoga”.
Their argument: Srinivasan is much too clever and, clearly, is a great survivor.
But is the aam aadmi thinking that way as well?
Footnote: Shilpa Shetty and husband Raj Kundra of the Rajasthan Royals must be pretty relieved that, because of the Srinivasan connection, the heat is almost wholly on CSK.