New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday asked the beleagured Indian cricket board president N. Srinivasan to show he was not in conflict of interest over the betting allegations against his son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan, an official of IPL franchise Chennai Super Kings that Srinivasan's firm owns.
Srinivasan, besides being the president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), is also a member of the Indian Premier League (IPL) governing council and vice-chairman and managing director of India Cement Ltd.
"There is either conflict of interest or there is no conflict of interest. There is no third thing. Show us that there is no conflict of interest," Justice T.S. Thakur and Justice Fakkir Mohamed Ibrahim Kalifulla told senior counsel Kapil Sibal who appeared for Srinivasan.
"That we will examine," Justice Kalifulla told Sibal as he sought to impress upon the court that the question of conflict of interest was not there and was not gone into by the Bombay High Court, a two-judge judicial committee appointed by the BCCI, and even the apex court-appointed Mudgal Committee which tendered its two reports in February and November 2014.
"Conflict of interest is certainly an issue (that) we will examine. We will lift the veil. That we will, that we will," said Justice Thakur.
"The question of conflict of interest being there or not, whether the matter was addressed by the high court or not is of no consequence," the court said.
The court made it clear that it would go into the matter raised by the petitioner Cricket Association of Bihar (CAB), which wants Srinivasan to stay away from contesting the election for the BCCI president and that IPL franchise Chennai Super Kings (CSK), owned by the India Cements, be disqualified from the IPL.
The court asked Sibal: "Is it correct that it (Judicial Committee comprising Justice T. Jayarama Chouta and Justice R. Balasubramanian) submitted its report in one day."
"No, two days," Sibal said, adding that it was constituted May 28 and the same day the complaint was submitted to it.
Sibal said Srinivasan had no role in the appointment of the two judges committee.
Confronting Sibal, Justice Kalifulla said the day the two judge committee was set up, Srinivasan was at the helm of the affairs of the BCCI.
Telling the court that the two judges panel was set up on the recommendations of the BCCI's legal advisors, Sibal said the cricketing body appointed the two judges to probe the allegations of betting and match-fixing on the suggestion of Arun Jaitley, who wanted the BCCI to keep itself off the probe. Jaitley is the finance minister in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government.
At this, the court said Sibal should refrain from mentioning Jaitley as he was not represented before it. Sibal defended mentioning Jaitley as everything that he was saying was "based on record".
Earlier, senior counsel Nalini Chidambaram told the court that there was no provision where an IPL franchise was compensated for the cancellation of a match. But CSK was awarded Rs.10 crore compensation.
Sibal said the compensation was never taken by CSK.
"Whether it was taken or not, ultimately the fact is it (compensation) was awarded," Chidambaram said.
Chidambaram told the court that when India Cements took IPL franchise CSK, there was a BCCI rule (6.2.4) that barred the cricketing body's office-bearers and administrators from having, directly or indirectly, any commercial interest in any event organised by the BCCI.
She said the rule was amended by the September 2008 AGM to exclude IPL from the ambit of the said rule and insulating CSK from its consequences.
Sibal said the definition of 'administrator' was so wide that it would practically take everybody out of IPL. He said that tycoon Vijay Mallya was an office-bearer of the Karnataka State Cricket Association (KSCA) and also hold a franchise. He named several players, including Sunil Gavaskar, Sourav Ganguly and Anil Kumble, in this connection.
"Rule 6.2.4. though amended does not give the licence to indulge in conflict of interest," said Justice Kalifulla.
The court asked: "If we remove the amendment and apply the original Rule 6.2.4 with full force, would it amount to conflict of interest and attract disqualification? If we restore the pre-amended provision, would it affect the working of BCCI?"
Hearing will continue Dec 8.