The Justice Mudgal Committee report tabled to the Supreme Court has set the cat amongst the pigeons. In a comprehensive set of findings, it has put in dock the entire cricket set-up of the country. From the BCCI to its President – N. Srinivasan, the IPL, its franchises and franchise owners, players and even the Indian cricket team. Presided over by Justice Mukul Mudgal, Additional Solicitor General L. Nageswara Rao, and Advocate Nilay Dutta, the Committee looked into allegations of betting and match-fixing associated with the Indian Premiere League. At the heart of the controversy is the BCCI President’s son-in-law, Mr. Gurunath Meiyappan. Mr. Srinivasan, chief of India’s top cricketing body and owner of India Cements could not have expected worse.
The report is a stinging indictment of his son-in-law’s actions and the subsequent cover-up attempted by India Cements. Gurunath Meiyappan, according to the investigation, was involved in betting and passing on information to outsiders. It was convinced of his involvement “after perusing the information provided by the Delhi and Chennai police, the FIR and charge sheet filed by the Mumbai police, and the transcripts of telephonic conversations.” The activities were carried out on behalf of Mr. Meiyappan by Mr. Vindoo Dara Singh. It seems that Gurunath, the ‘face’ of CSK, placed bets not only in favour of his own team but also against it.
The other issue thrown up by the investigation was the role of promoters, franchise owners, players and administrative bodies. The position of N. Srinivasan, as head of the BCCI and owner of India Cements is clearly one that creates conflict of interest. It also throws a question mark on the future of Chennai Super Kings. Attempts by India Cement officials and members of the CSK team to whitewash their connections with Mr. Gurunath Meiyappan have boomeranged. The question that arises is that of accountability. If the fence itself is busy eating the crops, then who is to guard against trespassers. Meiyappan and Raj Kundra, owner of Rajasthan Royals, both stand accused of betting, something that endangers not only their franchises but also the whole strucuture of IPL.
The other set of characters under the hammer are players. The report has found evidence of six prominent Indian cricketers (all capped) being involved in the scandal. Though their names haven’t been revealed, the bunch includes an individual who is part of the current team. Sad news for cricket fans of the country who might have expected the national squad to be squeaky clean. Their names have been handed over to the Supreme Court in a sealed cover. While the BCCI has gone ahead with the IPL auction counting on the tournament’s brand value to compensate for a lack of transparency and run-away corruption, one wonders how long the cricketing body can carry on in the same vein.