Legally, BCCI may be on sticky wicket

The Indian cricket board appears to have got itself even more embroiled in a legal quagmire as it seemed to be working to a single-point agenda of reinstating president in self-exile N. Srinivasan.

The moment he stepped down after his son-in-law was arrested by the Mumbai police for betting on IPL matches, the BCCI tried every shortcut to bring him back. A sham probe panel with two judges, conveniently from the city the board chief hails from, was struck down as illegal and unconstitutional by the Bombay high court. Whatever the legal implications, Mr Srinivasan seemed to be in undue haste to formally resume charge at his seat of power and control the fortunes of cricket and its administrators. That is why his legal eagles were given free rein to handpick judges for the probe.
Being in a Catch-22 situation, the BCCI is now forced to defend its probe panel before the Supreme Court while facing the clear threat of uncomfortable queries from the nation’s highest court on the mechanics and about who appointed the judges for the probe panel when the president’s son-in-law was embroiled in a police case, and its methods of functioning. The moment his close kin was involved — regardless of whether Gurunath Meiyappan was a team functionary or simply an “enthusiastic” person allowed free access to the Chennai Super Kings dugout — the BCCI was skating on very thin ice.
Every crisis is also seen as an opportunity: that is why there is some hope that the Supreme Court will now look into the entire gamut of cricket issues — the conflicts of interest that triggered major IPL problems in the first place, the conundrum of the captain’s management company ownership ties as well as fixing and betting scandals — rather than just the legality of the Bombay high court order striking down the probe panel.
The BCCI’s brazen ways of mocking the wisdom of judges and court orders must stop somewhere if cricket administration is to be thoroughly cleansed. In that sense the revolt against Mr Srinivasan’s single-point agenda of somehow ascending his chair again, and the subsequent cancellation of the working committee meeting on Friday, should be welcomed. The issue is far bigger than one administrator and his infinite capacity to keep his flock appeased with posts, perquisites and privileges. This issue is also to do with the ethics of governance and morality, that was seen to be lacking when team owners were accused of betting as insiders who are privy to team strategies and dressing room information. The time has come for the BCCI to shed personality politics, reinvent itself to look after the interests of Indian cricket in a far more professional manner.

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