It is bizarre to hear an official body pleading with the Supreme Court to suppress what is a potential scandal. As is well known, the Supreme Court now has with it a sealed envelope, which is supposed to contain the names of some players of the Indian team who are allegedly involved in betting and spot-fixing. This envelope was given to the apex court by a court-appointed committee headed by the former Punjab and Haryana chief justice, Mukul Mudgal. The Board of Control for Cricket in India entered a plea with the Supreme Court to withhold the contents of the envelope from the public. The BCCI told the court that since the material had not been verified, it should be kept away from the public domain. There are a number of points that are wrong in the request that is being made by the BCCI. For one thing, what it calls “the material’’ was prepared by a committee headed by a respected chief justice. There are enough grounds to believe that the contents of the envelope were prepared with due responsibility. An august body would not go around making baseless allegations.
More important and relevant to the matter is the unique position that the game of cricket enjoys in India. Cricket is not comparable to any other sport in India. It will be no exaggeration to suggest that together with politics and Bollywood films, cricket touches the heart of most Indians. In terms of popular enthusiasm, cricket is more than India’s national game: it is India’s unifying point, the nation’s point d’ honneur. It stands to reason that because of this, anything that affects the game of cricket in different ways affects the people of India. The nation has a right to know what players and some members of the BCCI are up to. It has been evident for some time that many cricketers wearing Indian colours have been pre-occupied with nefarious activities that are far removed from making runs, taking wickets and holding catches. Further, the BCCI in the conduct of its affairs has not always been above board and even has not always promoted the best interests of cricket in India. The BCCI is a very rich organization. Its fortunes are derived from the support it receives from the millions who watch cricket in India, on the grounds or on television screens. The BCCI has a duty to these people and the minimum duty is that it be transparent in its activities. By making the request it has made to the Supreme Court, it is failing in its duty.
The BCCI has lost credibility and it is contributing to this loss by pleading with the apex court to suppress what has been submitted as evidence (or as fact) by a committee whose credentials are above doubt. The Supreme Court should be left alone to decide if “the material’’ contained in the envelope should be made public or not. The matter is no longer within the ambit of the BCCI. The latter is only tarnishing its image further by trying to withhold information that the country deserves to know.