New Delhi: A three member Supreme Court appointed committee was not swayed by Gurunath Meiyappan's plea for leniency on the grounds that he had suffered a 10-day jail custody, lost Rs 60 lakh in betting, a first time offender and a youth.
"Facing criminal charges and his judicial custody for a period of about 10 days rather shows the seriousness of the misconduct committed by him," the panel headed by former CJI R M Lodha said while suspending CSK and Rajasthan Royals for two years for betting activities of Meiyappan and RR co-owner Kundra.
Rejecting his other grounds, the committee said,"His habit of regularly placing bets in IPL matches renders the argument of his being first offender and unblemished antecedents in previous IPL tournaments of no worth. That he suffered loss of Rs 60 lakh in bets shows that he engaged himself in heavy bets."
"It is his bad luck that he did not make money out of these bets. Any agony suffered by him because of media coverage or any hardship that may have been caused to him is too small in comparison to the huge injury he caused to the reputation and image of the game, IPL and BCCI. If the reputation, image and spirit of the sport are lost, what remains?" the panel also said.
"Being 40 years of age, he is not young but middle-aged. It is difficult to accept he has passion for the game. Any person who has true passion for the game would not be involved in the betting," it said and declared him "ineligible from participation in the sport of cricket as explained in the Anti Corruption Code for the maximum period of five years".
It also suspended him for life "from the activities as explained in Article 7.5 under Level 4 ( first offence ) of Article 2.4 of the Code of conduct" and "from being involved in any type of cricket matches under section 6, rule 4.2(b) read with (j) of the Operational Rules".
Kundra too got no relief from the panel which rejected his pleas for leniency on the grounds that he and his family have made substantial investments in IPL purely out of love for cricket and not for financial gain and that he was willing to surrender his shares in the franchise, saying the reasons do not "in any manner militate against gravity of misconduct committed by him".
The Committee said,"Though Mr. Raj Kundra has been found guilty of misconduct under the BCCI's Rules, Regulations and Codes for the first time but his very first misconduct has affected the image of the BCCI, IPL and game of cricket and brought disrepute to each one of them."
It also said that being a UK citizen, he "citizen he had heavy responsibility on him to ensure that his acts and actions were not in conflict with the laws of a foreign country. Betting is a crime punishable under the Indian Penal Code. Besides that it is an offence/corrupt practice under the BCCI's Rules, Regulations and Codes."
"With so much of information available online it is very difficult to accept that as UK citizen he believed betting to be legal in India," it said.
The panel also noted in its order that "The argument that Raj Kundra cooperated at all stages with all investigations into the matter and he willingly appeared before the Probe Committee is not borne out from the record.
"The Probe Committee on the other hand found that the investigation against him was abruptly and without reason stopped by the Rajasthan police upon receiving the case papers from Delhi Police. No reason is discernible as to why investigation into a crime as serious as this was not taken to logical conclusion."
The panel imposed upon Kundra the same sanctions as those imposed upon Meiyappan.