Supreme Court issues notice to BCCI, India Cements on SLP

The Supreme Court on Friday issued notice to the Board of Control for Cricket in India, its president N. Srinivasan, India Cements and Rajasthan Royals on a special leave petition filed by the Cricket Association of Bihar challenging the Bombay High Court judgment, which quashed the two-member panel that probed the allegations of spot-fixing and betting in the Indian Premier League season VI.

Earlier, senior counsel Aryama Sundaram, appearing for the Board, opposed issuance of notice contending that in the BCCI appeal the main contention was the petitioner had no locus standi to file the petition. If the appeal was allowed, there would be no need for hearing the cross-appeal from the CAB.

However, Harish Salve, appearing for the CAB represented by its secretary Aditya P. Verma, said: “Our SLP was for a limited extent that the High Court, while quashing the probe panel, did not grant the consequential relief of constituting a fresh panel to conduct an enquiry.”

A Bench of Justices A.K. Patnaik and J.S. Khehar posted both SLPs for final hearing on September 11. The Bench, while issuing notice on August 7 on the BCCI’s appeal, had declined to stay the High Court verdict.

In its SLP, the CAB said: “The High Court failed to appreciate [the fact] that even though Mr. Srinivasan is not the de jure president of the BCCI, since he stepped aside pending a report of the probe commission, he is the de facto president and going by the theory of preponderance of probabilities, even if a fresh probe commission is constituted, his influence over the selection of its members and investigation cannot be ruled out.”

The SLP pointed out that the High Court had recorded in its judgment that the duty officer received secret information that certain members of the underworld were involved in fixing the then ongoing IPL matches with the active participation of some unidentified conduits based in Delhi who were contacting IPL cricketers offering very high prices with a view to stage-managing some matches for making windfall gains through other bookies, who facilitated illegal gambling.

This extract from the judgment was to emphasise that the allegations had great ramifications for the security of the nation. “In such circumstances, the limited objective of the [Justice Jayarama Chouta] probe commission and the restricted terms of reference with the sole objective of protecting the private interest of Mr. Srinivasan do not justify permitting the BCCI to decide on the further course of action as the BCCI deems fit,” the SLP said.

The fact that the two-member commission gave Mr. Srinivasan a clean chit as reported in the media hearing reinforced the petitioner’s apprehension that but for the High Court’s intervention the allegations of betting and spot-fixing would have been swept under the carpet even without a credible report from the probe commission, the SLP said.

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