Millennium Post

BCCI rule allowing conflict of interest under SC scanner

The apex court bench of Justice TS Thakur and Justice Fakkir Mohamed Ibrahim Kalifulla decided to examine Rule 6.2.4 of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) as senior counsel Rajeev Dhavan told the court that the 2008 amendment created a conflict of interest situation as it gave a legal shield to its then secretary N Srinivasan-headed India Cements Limited for holding Indian Premier League franchise Chennai Super Kings (CSK).

The court said the issue of conflict of interest which has arisen during the hearing could not be "glossed over".

"The issue of conflict of interest can't be glossed over," the court observed.

Dhavan, who appeared for former BCCI president IS Bindra, told the court: "This clause needs to be examined and this is the heart of the problem and this amendment gave rise to greed."

"If this is not dealt with, then all the problems would remain unaddressed," Dhavan said.

This provision permitting conflict of interest must go, Dhavan told the apex court saying: "The things go wrong when commercial interests invade the game and this is only because of the Rule 6.2.4."

Assailing the amendment which gave "immunity and impunity" to Srinivasan from conflict of interest, Dhavan said the BCCI had commercial interests and public interests and the question was should commercial interest be allowed to dominate over public interest.

The senior counsel told the court that BCCI rule 6.2.4 prohibiting the conflict of interest situation was amended in the AGM held Sep 27, 2008, which also elected Srinivasan as secretary.

Dhavan told the court that Rule 6.2.4 was amended to exclude BCCI's cricketing events like the IPL and Champions League Twenty20 from the ambit of conflict of interest and to permit its office bearers or administrators to have commercial interest in them.

"Even as a treasurer there would have been a conflict of interest situation" the court observed noting that before becoming BCCI secretary, Srinivasan was treasurer of the apex cricketing body and India Cements was holding the IPL franchise CSK.

Describing the 2008 amendment of BCCI rule 6.2.4 as "self-serving", Dhavan told the court that "This is responsible for the mess we are witnessing in cricket".

"If it is not a licence to abuse the conflict of interest, then it is difficult to imagine what it is," Dhavan told the court as it (court) sought to remind him that the validity of Rule 6.2.4 as amended was not before it. At this stage, senior counsel Nalini Chidambram told the court that the Cricket Association of Bihar (CAB) has already moved the court challenging it.

Chidambram, who appeared for CAB, sought the clubbing of the hearing of their fresh petition with the present hearing to decide the same.

The court is hearing the plea by the CAB that has sought that Srinivasan be barred from contesting the election for the BCCI president on the ground of his being in the conflict of interest situation, being the president and also the owner of CSK.

The Public Interest Litigation (PIL) is also seeking the cancellation of IPL franchise CSK on the ground of Srinivasan's son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan's alleged involvement in betting.

Earlier, appearing for IPL's Chief Operating Officer (COO) Sunder Raman, senior counsel V. Giri had a tough time in responding to queries by the court as to why he did not inform the BCCI about the "hearsay" information provided to him by Y.P.Singh of ICC 's Anti-Corruption Special Unit on betting.

Seeking his exclusion from the ongoing hearing as he was just an employee of the BCCI who was managing the affairs of the IPL, Raman kept reiterating that the information that was given to him by Y.P.Singh was "not actionable" and stressed that "there was no material to support such information" for his failure to act on it.

Apparently unimpressed by Raman's response, the court asked him, "When you say that it was not actionable information, were you looking for ledgers of bookies" to support the reports which were in the air.

The court also asked Raman the reason for his receiving seven calls from a "celebrity" (Vindoo Dara Singh) who in turn was in contact with bookies as has been said in the Mudgal Committee report.

The unimpressed court observed, "For you (Sunder Raman) it would have been staking your job to tell BCCI that son-in-law of Srinivasan was engaged in betting."

The hearing will continue on Tuesday.

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