Top court urges new corruption probe into IPL

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Tuesday urged a tough new investigation into allegations of spot-fixing and illegal betting in the Indian Premier League cricket competition after months of controversy.

The top court said it wanted the country’s investigation agencies to team up with its own three-member panel appointed last year to probe the allegations into the popular Twenty20 competition.

The panel, led by former judge Mukal Mudgal, has already produced a damning report which lists 13 people, including Indian cricket boss N. Srinivasan, who has been forced to stand aside in the wake of the scandal.

Justice A.K. Patnaik said he wanted the new investigation to look further into allegations contained in a sealed section of the report — which has not been made public and which deals with the 13 people.

“We want to know from the Mudgal panel if they are willing to continue investigations,” Patnaik told the court.

The court has accused Srinivasan, seen as the most powerful man in world cricket, of effectively turning a blind eye to the allegations that have embroiled the IPL since last year.

The court last month ordered Srinivasan to stand aside as president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). It installed batting Indian great Sunil Gavaskar, who is charged with overseeing the latest edition of the IPL.

Srinivasan is still set to take over in July as head of the International Cricket Council.

The panel has been looking into allegations surrounding last year’s IPL, when former Test bowler Shanthakumaran Sreesanth was caught deliberately bowling badly while playing for the Rajasthan Royals in return for thousands of dollars from bookmakers.

The panel’s report concluded that Srinivasan’s son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan — who was the team principal of the Chennai Super Kings — could be guilty of illegal betting on IPL games.

The Super Kings are owned by India Cements, whose managing director is Srinivasan. The team is captained by India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

The court had asked the BCCI itself to investigate the panel’s report. But after hearing legal arguments on Tuesday against the BCCI’s proposed list of names to head the probe, the court asked if the Mudgal panel was willing to take over.

Former judge Mudgal later told media that he would be happy to head another investigation.

“We have given our consent, it is entirely for the Supreme Court to decide,” Mudgal told the CNN-IBN chaannel.

Meiyappan and several cricketers and bookmakers have also been the target of a separate police investigation which has resulted in charges including forgery, cheating and criminal conspiracy.

International news organisations, including Agence France-Presse (AFP), have suspended their on-field coverage of matches hosted by the BCCI since 2012 after the board imposed restrictions on picture agencies.

Source: AFP