Charges against Gurunath proved – IPL probe report

(Cricinfo)Gurunath Meiyappan, the son-in-law of Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) president N Srinivasan, has been found by a court-appointed committee to have indulged in betting and passing on information during IPL 2013, as alleged, and has been proved to be the team official of Chennai Super Kings. The committee, led by Justice Mukul Mudgal, submitted its final report to the Supreme Court yesterday with the proviso that it was for the court to decide on any action to be taken.

The report also said that Raj Kundra, the Rajasthan Royals team owner, had “resorted to betting” through Umesh Goenka in the IPL as was “evident” from the statements of Goenka recorded by the Delhi court. However, it said that “further and serious investigations” on the basis of the Goenka statements were required.

The report noted that the allegations of spot-fixing and match fixing against five players – Sreesanth, Ankeet Chavan, Ajit Chandila, Amit Singh and Siddharth Trivedi – on the basis of evidence provided by Delhi Police were facing criminal trial and “adequate punishment has been imposed upon them by the BCCI.”

Along with the report, the court has also been given a sealed envelope – to be opened and read only by the judges – containing the names of persons allegedly involved in sporting fraud. The report said the commission had come across “many allegations of sporting fraud” and had forwarded the allegations in the sealed envelope “in view of the sensitive nature of the information being provided”. The committee said it would not be “proper to cast aspersions on the persons named unless investigations are conducted”.

The report is now expected to be taken up by the court on March 7, when it resumes hearing the case pertaining to IPL corruption which had led to the formation of the Mudgal committee.

The implications of the report, though serious, are not expected at this point to affect the IPL auction, due to be held on February 12 and 13. Rajiv Shukla, the BCCI vice-president, said the auction would go ahead as scheduled. “The good that Supreme Court has done is that the IPL auction was not stopped,” he said. “It will happen as planned for all the teams in Bangalore.”

N Srinivasan, the BCCI president, said he would not comment till he had read the full report. The question of whether Gurunath was involved in match-fixing and spot-fixing, the report said, had “not been investigated thoroughly by the anti-corruption units of the ICC and the BCCI or the Crime Branch Criminal Investigation Department of the Chennai police, “even though some information was available for such an investigation to be conducted.”

Over the question of Gurunath’s role as “owner” of CSK, the committee said that the ‘infraction of the rules prohibiting betting by a team official has clearly occoured.” It took note of the “stance” of the CSK senior counsel who had said that “CSK should not be punished for actions of Meiyappan.” The franchisee owners “(Indian Cements) (sic)” had defended the actions of the franchisee “by contending/ stating that Mr Gurunath Meiyappan was not related in any way with the franchise.” The committee’s response to this contention was that, “the franchisee appears to be contradicting the factual position as has already been observed by the committee.”

The committee stated that Gurunath had been in violation of several sections of the IPL Operational Rules, the IPL Anti-Corruption Code and Articles of the Code of Conduct for Players and team officials.

The report’s “conclusions and recommendations” section has said that it can do no more than report a “violation of the rules” to the Court as it does not have a mandate to impose any punishment. “It is for the Hon’ble Supreme Court to decide what action, if any, is to be taken pursuant of the report of the Committee.”

There are references made to one specific match in the report, between Rajasthan Royals and Chennai Super Kings on May 12, 2013, the committee stating, “there seems to be enough information available on record to indicate that a further investigation is required in respect of the match.”

The report also refers to the issue of conflict of interest – “raised by several persons who are neither in the BCCI hierarchy nor are beneficiaries of the BCCI” – brought about by the ownership of Chennai Super Kings by India Cements, whose managing director is the BCCI president.

“It was also pointed out that the conflict of interest was brought about by the amendment to clause 6.2.4 of the BCCI Rules and Regulations, by which an office-bearer of the BCCI was permitted to hold a commercial interest in the IPL and Champions League.”

The amendment, the report notes, was the subject of a petition in the Supreme Court by former BCCI president AC Muthiah, leading to a split verdict.

The report concedes that, while the issue does not fall directly within the committee’s terms of reference, the questions raised were “serious and may have large-scale ramifications on the functioning of cricket.” It said it was bringing the matter before the Supreme Court “since several stakeholders repeatedly stressed on this issue.”

The three-member committee, headed by former High Court judge Mukul Mudgal and comprising additional solicitor general L Nageswara Rao and Assam Cricket Association member Nilay Dutta, was set up by the Supreme Court in October 2013 to conduct an independent inquiry into the allegations of corruption against Gurunath, Super Kings team owner India Cements, and Rajasthan Royals team owner Jaipur IPL Cricket Private Ltd, as well as with the larger mandate of allegations around betting and spot-fixing in IPL matches and the involvement of players. It interviewed more than 100 people – including ESPNcricinfo’s senior editor Sharda Ugra – in connection with its probe.

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