Bench rules out ban on IPL, blames the whole problem on the governing body’s lackadaisical attitude

Even as the spot-fixing scandal deepened, the Supreme Court on Tuesday pointed the finger at the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), observing that such incidents had taken place due to its lackadaisical approach to reining in erring players.

A vacation Bench of Justices B.S. Chauhan and Dipak Misra, however, refused to ban the remaining Indian Premier League matches to be played this week.

It was incumbent on the BCCI to “maintain and sustain” the reputation of the 125-year-old game, the Bench said and warned the board that cricket lovers might not give the quietus to such irregularities and directed it to punish the errant players and teams involved in various irregularities.

Justice Misra told senior counsel Ranjit Kumar, appearing for the BCCI: “The whole problem is the lackadaisical attitude of the BCCI and it must stop. There has to be a rational, objective and absolutely dispassionate approach in dealing with irregularities.”

The Bench asked counsel, “What measures are you taking?.. Judges also watch cricket.”

Mr. Ranjit Kumar admitted that there had been some irregularities and the Board had set up a one-member committee to look into the issue. The Board was taking steps to prevent such incidents in future. Since the spot-fixing controversy surfaced, a team of the BCCI’s anti-corruption unit had been accompanying all IPL teams so that “if there is any aberration that can be nipped in the bud,” counsel said.

The Bench directed the committee to submit its report within 15 days and asked the Board to bring the errant teams and players to book on the basis of the report. “Let the gentleman’s game remain a gentleman's game and not be tainted by irregularities and scams,” the Bench said. “BCCI must conduct a scientific, rational, dispassionate inquiry to ensure that no guilty player goes scot-free by taking to subterfuge.”

When counsel Vishnu Shanker Jain, appearing for social activist Sudarsh Awasthi, pleaded for a ban on IPL matches, Justice Chauhan said the entire game could not be banned for the fault of a few errant players. “Under what provisions of law, is it permissible for this court to ban the cricket tournament?”

‘Nation degraded’

In his public interest writ petition, Mr. Awasthi said huge money was invested in the IPL by various celebrities, politicians, and anti-nationals whose whereabouts were not known to anyone. “The IPL has become a hub of black money, gambling and obscenity” and it degraded the nation. As a result, the performance and integrity of players of the Indian cricket team suffered in national and international events. The players had a primary duty to play for the nation and bring laurels to it “but they are getting deviated towards spot-fixing, gambling and betting, and are being auctioned.” Mr. Awasthi sought a direction to constitute a Special Investigating Team to enquire into the matter.