The true merit of the insightful report of the Justice Mudgal committee appointed by the Supreme Court lies not only in its factual findings, but in the compelling case it presents for a thorough clean-up of cricket in the country. The main report’s authors, Justice Mukul Mudgal and L. Nageswara Rao, have avoided the beaten path of giving ‘clean chits’ to top administrators or finding scapegoats, and laid bare the facts in an orderly way. The report provides a sound basis as well as an opportunity to address the malaise the game suffers from in terms of business practices that lack transparency, unbridled commercialism that ignores obvious conflicts of interest, and an overall atmosphere conducive to venality. It rejects the stand of Board of Control for Cricket in India president N. Srinivasan and India Cements, which owns Chennai Super Kings in the Indian Premier League, that Gurunath Meiyappan was not its owner or principal, and the astounding claim that he was no more than an enthusiastic follower of the team. By describing him as the face of the franchise and undoubtedly a team official, and concluding that he had indulged in betting and passing on information, the report has rendered the CSK franchise liable to termination under certain clauses in the Franchise Agreement and the IPL Operational Rules. These clauses cast a responsibility on the franchise to ensure that each of its officials complied with all rules, including the anti-corruption code. The report recommends further investigation into allegations of betting and spot fixing against Raj Kundra of Rajasthan Royals.
Of course, it has to be borne in mind that the main report bases its conclusions on police records, and that these are not meant to be treated as findings of guilt in respect of criminal offences. The separate report by the committee’s third member, Nilay Dutta, does not agree that Mr. Meiyappan could be considered the team’s owner, although he was an official under the Operational Rules. Also, he does not want to accept the allegation of betting against Mr. Meiyappan, unless taped conversations relating to this were proved authentic. He favours a comprehensive investigation into the entire issue of betting and fixing in cricket. It is clear that the present measures undertaken by the BCCI in combating sporting fraud are insufficient. Going beyond its terms of reference, the main report has flagged the conflict of interest involved in Mr. Srinivasan being head of the cricket board as well as being associated with a franchise owner. It is a moment of truth for Indian cricket, and the Mudgal committee has presented to the Supreme Court weighty reasons to undertake a thorough cleansing of the sport.