NEW DELHI: Unfazed by a Bombay high court order which declared its probe into the IPL spot-fixing scandal “illegal”, a defiant N Srinivasan will chair the BCCI’s working committee on Friday, signalling his formal return to the top post despite the furore.
The crucial meeting will mark Srinivasan’s return to the president’s post after nearly two months since he stepped aside pending an internal inquiry into the spot-fixing scandal which rocked the sixth edition of the IPL.
BCCI secretary Sanjay Patel made it clear that Srinivasan will chair the meeting as he has resumed his duty as the president, putting an end to the suspense over who will chair the conclave which will discuss all the legal implications of the high court order and chalk out a future course of action.
“He (Srinivasan) is the BCCI chief and he has already started working. There is no confusion as to who will chair tomorrow’s working committee meeting. Nobody till now has forced Mr Srinivasan to resign,” Patel said.
Srinivasan refused to talk to the media on his arrival here, telling reporters at the airport to allow him to go.
“Will you allow me to go to my car… I am entitled to go, allow me to go. I just got hit by this camera. You cannot hit me like this with the camera. It’s not ok with me “, Srinivasan said before getting into his car.
An internal probe by two retired judges had cleared president-in-exile Srinivasan’s franchise Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals owner Raj Kundra of charges of betting and spot-fixing.
Hearing a Public Interest Litigation filed by the Cricket Association of Bihar, a two-judge division bench declared the two-member BCCI probe panel “unconstitutional and illegal”, taking the Board completely by surprise.
According to a BCCI source, the working committee will take a decision on whether to immediately appeal against the verdict in the Supreme Court or wait till the police completes its probe in the matter. It can also explore the option of forming a new probe panel to reinvestigate the scandal.
Srinivasan has argued that he can be back at his job now that the internal inquiry commission to probe allegations of IPL spot-fixing and betting had completed its report and found no evidence against Chennai Super Kings and his son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan.
However, there are indications that some BCCI officials are not too happy that Srinivasan has decided to attend the meeting which has again brought the spotlight on the Board.
The members feel that in view of the Bombay high court’s verdict, it would be better if Srinivasan shelves his plans of returning as BCCI president for the time being.
Meanwhile, BCCI vice president Niranjan Shah became the first senior official to openly call for a fresh probe into the IPL spot-fixing scandal, saying such a step was needed as the Board’s “image has really gone down”.
In a significant development ahead of the crucial working committee meeting, Shah said it was imperative to do something to improve the image of the Board, taking into account the recent Bombay high court order.
“In recent times, Board’s image has really gone down. We must do something to improve Board’s image because cricket is very important,” Shah said.
“Board’s legal team will take care of it, they will advise tomorrow. We must have another panel, let’s wait for tomorrow for the IPL (GC) and working committee meeting,” Shah said.
“At the moment, in the view of the Bombay high court judgement, Board should ensure that nothing like this happens in future, BCCI should take strict measures, we have zero policy against corruption,” he added.
Former BCCI treasurer Ajay Shirke, who resigned in the wake of the spot-fixing scandal, said that the Board had many legal experts and they should take the correct decision.
“I am sure the legal experts in the Board will be fully aware of the implications of the high court order and they will take appropriate decision”, Shirke said.
Cricket Association of Bihar, who had filed the PIL, threatened to move court again in the event of N Srinivasan chairing the working committee meeting on Friday.
“The court has categorically termed the two-member probe set up by him as illegal. He has no authority to chair the working committee meeting. In case he does, we will move petition against him. It will be a clear violation of the court orders,” Verma, the secretary of Cricket Association of Bihar (CAB), told reporters.
“He has been given a clean chit despite the matter being subjudice. This shows their (BCCI) malafide intention,” he added.
Verma alleged that an important BCCI functionary had contacted him to settle the matter out of court and even threatened him.
“Whenever I was in Mumbai, BCCI members used to meet me. One day a powerful functionary of the BCCI told me that ‘you would be requiring an affiliation from us. You think you will be able to fight against us. We can settle the matter outside the court’,” he said.