Declaring that the spirit of cricket is larger than any individuals, their cricket franchises or financial losses, the Supreme Court-appointed Justice R.M. Lodha Committee suspended IPL cricket franchisees India Cements Ltd (ICL) and Jaipur IPL Pvt Ltd (JIPL) from the Indian Premier League for two years.
In a judgment read out by former Chief Justice of india Lodha, the committee further suspended for life former BCCI president N. Srinivsan’s son-in-law and IPL team Chennai Super Kings’ official Gurunath Meiyappan and former Rajasthan Royals part-owner Raj Kundra from involving with BCCI in any cricket matches.
The two team officials found guilty of betting by the Supreme Court were also suspended for a maximum 5 years from taking part in any cricketing activities. Both suspensions will be in effect from Tuesday run concurrently.
Justice Lodha made it clear in the judgment that his committee’s mandate was to safeguard the purity of the game.
He said the judgment reflects the “institutionally firm” position of the committee to protect the paramountcy of purity of the cricket.
It said the controversy had shaken the foundation of cricket.
‘Meiyppan lost Rs. 60 lakh in betting’
Reading out the operative part in the judgment concerning Meiyappan first, the committee said he acted in gross violation of the anti-corruption code and IPL Operational Rules. It said Meiyappan ignored the fundamental sporting imperatives as a team official.
The judgment said Meiyppan lost Rs. 60 lakh in betting, which showed his heavy betting habits.
It said that at age 40, Meiyappan cannot say that he did not know the impact of his doings and the injury it caused to cricket.
The Lodha Committee judgment said the betting activities of Meiyappan and Kundra had such adverse impact and immeasurable harm on BCCI, IPL and cricket that any given cricket game is viewed with general distrust and raises doubts of illegality.
Committee rejects Kundra’s defence
On Kundra, the judgment said his defence that he was a UK citizen and that he did not know that betting was illegal here cannot be accepted.
“If he was truly in love with game, he would not gave engaged in betting,” Justice Lodha read from the verdict.
Imposing strict liability on ICL and JIPL for the illegal activities of their team officials, the judgment said neither will ICL’s claim of “long history of contributions” to cricket nor Jaipur IPL being the “nursery” of cricket can hide the fact that all is not well with them.
This was accentuated by the fact that Meiyappan as son-in-law of Mr. Srinivasan was the “face of the owner” and Kundra was part owner. The verdict said the franchises was liable for grave “general omissions”.
Lodha Committee was formed by the Supreme Court in its judgment in the IPL betting case on January 22.
The January 22 judgment confirmed the Supreme Court-appointed Justice Mukul Mudgal committee’s findings and held Meiyappan and Kundra guilty of betting. It dismissed claims made that Meiyappan was no team official but a cricket enthusiast.
“Gurunath Meiyappan and Raj Kundra are accepted as team officials, their misconduct which has adversely affected the image of theBCCI and the league as also the game and brought each one of them to disrepute can result in imposition of one or more of the sanctions. It is noteworthy that those sanctions are not limited to Gurunath Meiyappan and Raj Kundra alone but may extend to suspension of the team or the franchisee from the league also,” the apex court held.
It asked whether BCCI, which it held as conducting a “public function” and amenable to writ jurisdiction, can live with the idea that game is being played to cheat the public.
The Bench said it would not be fair to leave the task of deciding the quantum of punishment for MeiyappanandKundrato eitherBCCIor to the apex court itself.
So, it ordered the setting up of a three-member high-powered committee led by former Chief Justice of India R.S.Lodha and former Supreme Court judges Ashok Bhan and R.V.Raveendran as members to decide the quantum of punishment. Any decision taken by this committee will be “final and binding on the BCCI”.
The judgment said the committee would further recommend measures to streamlineBCCIelections, eligibility of candidates and criteria for disqualification. It would evolve a mechanism to deal with conflict of interest situations and further probe the role of IPL COO Sundar Raman.
The committee has been given further powers to bring in any recommendations it sees fit in theBCCI functioning. It has been given a time frame of six months from today to complete its tasks.