The Supreme Court on Thursday asked N. Srinivasan, owner of Chennai Super Kings, to furnish details of his shareholding in India Cements and the composition of its Board members to ascertain who owned the Indian Premier League (IPL) franchise.
A Bench of Justices T.S. Thakur and Ibrahim Kalifulla told Mr. Srinivasan’s counsel, Kapil Sibal, “We want to know who is really controlling CSK. Is it the corporate entity or Mr. Srinivasan? Who are the people who took decisions on behalf of the India Cements company regarding CSK? We are looking for the real owners of CSK.”
The Bench sought this information after senior counsel Nalini Chidambaram and Harish Salve, appearing for the petitioner, Cricket Association of Bihar, contended that for all practical purposes Mr. Srinivasan was the owner of the CSK.Many caps
While Ms. Chidambaram said he decided even the captain, players and umpires, Mr. Salve said he had been wearing many caps as BCCI president, vice-chairman and managing director of India Cements and CSK owner as described in various documents.
At this juncture, Justice Thakur asked Aryama Sundaram, BCCI counsel, what would be the position if the franchise was scrapped and whether the conflict of interest would still persist. Mr. Sundaram said all decisions were taken by the respective committees and not by Mr. Srinivasan.
Mr. Sibal said Mr. Srinivasan had only a four per cent stake in the company. He denied the petitioner’s allegation that Mr. Srinivasan or CSK captain M.S. Dhoni had given a written statement before the Mudgal panel that Gurunath Meiyappan was merely a cricket enthusiast. Mr. Sundaram submitted that the BCCI accepted that Gurunath Meiyappan was a “team official.”
Shekar Naphade, counsel for Raj Kundra, co-owner of Rajasthan Royals and one of the four “non-playing” individuals indicted by the Mudgal panel, informed the court that while the BCCI suspended Mr. Kundra in 2013, he was yet to receive a written notice and he learnt it only from newspapers.
When Mr. Sundaram said the court could pass appropriate orders and there could be an external commission, Justice Thakur said: “If we pass an order, then we will be clutching at the functions of the board. We will ask the Mudgal committee to go into the question of punishment.”
“We won’t say it is a happy situation, but your term has ended and you continue due to fortuitous circumstances. But you still say the same Board will take action on the committee’s report, including the question of disqualification of Chennai Super Kings,” Justice Thakur said.
Ms. Chidambaram alleged that India Cements had tried to cover up the acts of Mr. Meiyappan and his role by giving a misleading reply to the committee. She said, “The said act was clearly tantamount to a cover-up.” In view of the findings of the committee, the franchise of CSK was required to be terminated forthwith, she said.
Mr. Salve, supplementing Ms. Chidambaram, said higher standards of discipline and institutional integrity should be applied by Mr. Srinivasan. “Should Mr. Srinivasan not take moral responsibility for the acts of his son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan,” the counsel asked. He said: “As per the rules, even if a guest makes a mistake, the responsibility would fall on the team owner.”
Arguments will continue on December 1.