Supreme Court’s observation that N Srinivasan, BCCI’s president-in-exile and owner of IPL franchise Chennai Super Kings, is essentially harbouring a ‘conflict of interest’ and furthering his own cause at the expense of propriety is an important, although delayed, note. Roughly four years ago, Supreme Court had heard a case against Srinivasan, filed by former BCCI president AC Muthiah, when the latter expressed disappointment and took to court the richest cricketing board’s controversial decision to amend its rule and allow the India Cements owner to buy the CSK team in 2008.
At that time, the SC judge, Justice Gyan Sudha Mishra had pointed out this very dichotomy in the heart of BCCI, with its secretary having a massive stake in not only one of the IPL teams but also intervening in the bidding process which is supposed to be competitive and transparent. Years later, BCCI and indeed the entire cricketing fraternity in India are once again at the familiar crossroads, confusing the role of the board chief. While Srinivasan’s son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan, along with IPL Chief Operating Officer Sundar Raman and Rajasthan Royals co-owner Raj Kundra, have been indicted in the IPL-6 spot-fixing scam, the CSK-owner has been partially cleared by Mukul Mudgal panel. Yet, the crucial piece of observation that Mudgal report included was the fact that the president-in-exile was aware of what was going on.
The twin conundrums around Srinivasan, therefore, are reasons enough for a thorough overhaul of not only the manner in which appointments are made to the most powerful cricketing body in the world, but also the shaky arguments behind which the irregularities tend to hide. However, simply passing observations will not help in clearing the mess that Indian cricket finds itself in at the current juncture. Reprimanding Srinivasan hasn’t yielded an iota of remorse or repentance from the man whose only aim is to prevail himself at the expense of all fundamental values, principles and spirit of the ‘gentleman’s game’ that cricket once used to be.
So much so, that Srinivasan even requested the SC to ‘reinstate’ him as the BCCI chief, completely overlooking the scathing comments passed by the Mudgal committee report which openly hinted at possible complicity, if not direct involvement, of the CSK owner. Moreover, SC’s observation that a team owner cannot ideally hold a key position in board since this amounts to conflict of interest, is also years too late. Why wasn’t it pronounced when Srinivasan was the BCCI secretary, since even then, the India Cements chief’s buying up of CSK amounted to a fundamental breach of the inviolate nature of a sport as entangled with India’s cultural space as cricket.