Players can be tempted because greed has no end, says Justice Mudgal

A well-known cricket fan, Justice Mukul Mudgal took stance at home on Friday to answer questions on the order passed by the Supreme Court on the spot-fixing and betting scandal in the Indian Premier League.

Excerpts:

How do you look at this order?

I think the order is very satisfactory. It is a very balanced order. It does not hurt cricket, it protects the interests of the sportspersons, the cricketers. It also protects the interests of the teams and the cricket-viewing public.

But with the impression given on Thursday, and from what we saw today, we would have expected much sterner action against the franchises and some of the allegedly corrupt elements of the board.

Look, there are two things. One, what was said on Thursday was only a tentative response-seeking proposal. It wasn’t the final order or anything. During the course of an argument, the judges sometimes raise queries. Those queries or observations should not be taken as the decisions of the court. This is what I think seems to have happened.

You have tremendous love and respect for the game. How difficult was it to go through the probe?

It was disappointing. I have been a lawyer for over 25 years, a judge for about 14, so the baser elements of humanity are not a surprise for me. But yes, it’s hurting.

What was your feeling about dealing with the dark side of cricket?

In one sense, the probe was easy because I follow cricket very keenly. As for the dark side, it was not such a shock. Cricket betting is a well-known phenomenon in India. I have always advocated that betting should be legalised. We have a strange situation in the country, where betting on the skills of a horse and a jockey is permitted but betting on the skills of a cricketer is not. It makes no sense. And the sooner the government does it, the better; the revenue would be tremendous.

When a cricketer earns so much, why does he tend to corrupt himself?

There are two or three angles to it. If it is a peripheral player who has no future, he may be tempted to do it. But even a celebrated player can do it, because greed has no end.

Did you have enough power to take a decision? Why does the BCCI stonewall every effort when we seek transparency?

The BCCI fully cooperated with us. As for transparency, you should ask the BCCI. I personally think, of all the sports organisations in the country, BCCI is decidedly the best run without doubt. The lot of the sportsman has improved. It can be an organisation easily amenable to transparency. By and large they hold regular elections. The organisation of the sport is pretty good. They do put in a lot in the development of the sport. And they don’t take anything from the government. In that sense, BCCI should be totally open, it has nothing to hide.

What is the way forward?

The court has already indicated that this is only an interim order. That means it will operate till the Supreme Court hears the case finally on April 16.

Are you happy with the way the BCCI functions?

Yes, but it could be better. One thing I am pained about is that today you see Test grounds lying empty. You see in places like Zimbabwe, school children are permitted to come. The BCCI has great resources. I would be very happy if they allow school students from lesser-affluent sections of the society to come and see Tests and fill up the stadiums.

Would you agree that certain meaningless matches tempt such elements?

Yes, when the match doesn’t carry any relevance. But there are two things. A team already qualified will tend to relax also. Why should it play its important players or strain itself and get injured?

I have written in my report about the factors that can happen genuinely also. We didn’t say the May 12, 2013 match [Rajasthan Royals vs. Chennai Super Kings, in Jaipur] was fixed. We only said it required more investigation.

What does further investigation mean?

It is for the court to decide. If the court asks us, we will be honoured but it is not at all a way to self-perpetuate ourselves.

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