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Judges do what board cronies would not

Dhaka, March 25: The Supreme Court back home today tore into Narayanswamy Srinivasan, telling him exactly what gutless colleagues in the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) should have told him 10 months ago when son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan was arrested by Mumbai police.

Srinivasan and his core group had been expecting the apex court to come down heavily on the Chennai Super Kings, but it straightaway went for the BCCI president’s jugular.

It caught Srinivasan and his band of faithful by surprise. As also the rest of the BCCI, for such stinging observations weren’t anticipated.

They’d overlooked that the Supreme Court had itself appointed the Justice (retd) Mukul Mudgal probe committee and, so, its revealing findings on the IPL scandals couldn’t have been brushed aside.

The utmost interest, by the way, remains on the “sealed cover” submitted by Justice Mudgal, the contents of which were shown to the BCCI’s counsel, Chetpet Aryama Sundaram.

There will be ramifications internationally as Srinivasan’s supposed to become the first chairman of the International Cricket Council after its restructuring, in a few months.

“We would not like to damage the institution, but we find that unless the president steps down, no fair investigation (into the IPL’s ills) can take place. Why are you still there? It is so nauseating,” Justice Ananga Kumar Patnaik boomed.

Justice Ibrahim Kalifulla was as scathing.

Justices Patnaik and Kalifulla have, on a plea from Sundaram, given Srinivasan 48 hours to act. Hearing resumes on Thursday.

Till 11pm, the BCCI, as an institution, hadn’t reacted.

Despite the stunning turn of events, many remained wary of Srinivasan’s vindictive arm. Such has been his hold, menacing some may say.

A former office-bearer, who didn’t wish to be quoted, said: “Why should anybody open his mouth unnecessarily? The man (Srinivasan) has to go. If he doesn’t resign on his own, the apex court will order him to. So, wait for developments.”

Somebody closely associated with the BCCI made the point that Srinivasan should “learn” from Subrata Roy of Sahara. Specifically, that the Supreme Court cannot be taken for granted.

On record, former India off-spinner Shivlal Yadav, who is expected to take over once Srinivasan resigns or is forced to do so, did speak to The Telegraph.

“I’m on a pilgrimage and not in touch with others in the BCCI. What the apex court says has to be followed. Two days’ time is there and it’s for Mr Srinivasan to decide when he’ll step down.

“I really don’t know how the BCCI plans to take this forward, but if I’m given the responsibility, I’ll do my best. Agar likha hai to main president banoonga, nahin likha to phir nahin,” Shivlal, the senior-most among the five vice-presidents and South’s man, said.

The present situation is without precedent, but Shivlal (or somebody else from South) would have to be the president till September, when Srinivasan’s term comes to an end.

By then, the Sharad Pawars and the Shashank Manohars could become very active players, either publicly or behind the scenes.

Some may also look up to Jagmohan Dalmiya, who once ran world cricket, but he seems reluctant to take the lead. Perhaps, his age (73) is a factor.

That the Supreme Court has had to intervene in such a manner reflects poorly on the BCCI, whose affiliates didn’t have the courage to get Srinivasan to resign 10 months ago.

If anything, Srinivasan made his position stronger, promising more to the affiliates from the BCCI’s increased revenue.

But, obviously, Srinivasan hadn’t factored in the apex court.

Thanks to Meiyappan, Srinivasan’s world is coming apart. A smartly-plotted rise to the top is about to become history.

In the hours immediately after Justices Patnaik and Kalifulla’s verbal whipping, there was talk that an emergent working committee meeting could be called tomorrow.

Technically, however, three days’ notice is required. In any case, till 11pm, the BCCI hadn’t sent out a notice to the affiliates who sit on the working committee.

Srinivasan trusts very few, which is why only his core group is aware of his next move.

Meanwhile, Team India again chose to largely stay indoors at the Pan Pacific Sonargaon.

Outwardly, at least, the players looked calm as they fulfilled a World T20 engagement.

Totally relaxed was vice-captain Virat Kohli, who went to a store in the luxury hotel’s arcade, wanting a “cover” for his iPad. He didn’t get one, but bought a cologne instead.

Trust Kohli to ‘improvise’.