IPL 6 hearings resume as Mudgal Committee submits its November Report

Published 01 December 2014 | Authored by: Manali Kulkarni

Investigations into the Indian Premier League’s (IPL)alleged unlawful betting and spot-fixing scandals occurring during the 2013 tournament (IPL 6) began in earnest in May 2013, when three Rajasthan Royals players were arrested and later suspended by the BCCI for their involvement.2

Recap on the IPL 6 scandal, the Mudgal Committee’s February Report, and the Supreme Court’s April 2014 hearings

In June 2013, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) appointed a two-member panel to investigate the alleged corruption.3 However, the Cricket Association of Bihar’s (CAB’s) Secretary, Aditya Verma (also the petitioner for the case), appealed the appointment to the Bombay High Court, submitting that there was a conflict of interest in the two-member BCCI panel.4

In July 2013, the Bombay High Court ruled that the BCCI panel was “illegal5; both the BCCI and CAB appealed the Bombay High Court’s decision to the Supreme Court of India. CAB explained that the Bombay High Court should have presented an alternative way to proceed with the scandal investigations. Subsequently, the Supreme Court appointed a three member panel to conduct an independent probe. The investigation panel, led by Mukul Mudgal along with solicitor general L Nageswara Rao and Nilay Dutta, is known as the Mudgal Committee6.7

In February 2014, the Mudgal Committee submitted its first report, ‘A report on the allegations of betting and spot/match fixing in the Indian Premier League- Season 6: Volume 1’ (the “February Report”),8 along with a sealed envelope containing the names of 13 people who were said to require further investigation. As the sealed envelope only concerned allegations, many of the names were kept confidential; it was later confirmed that Srinivasan was among the 13 named in the envelope facing an allegation.9

In brief, the February Report was structured to address issues of Meiyappan’s and Kundra’s knowledge and access to betting, related issues of spot fixing, and any conflict of interest concerns. The report stated that the Mudgal Committee had substantial knowledge after the investigation to conclude that Meiyappan was betting against his own team (Chennai Super King or CSK) and had knowledge of the corruption, based on a call recording provided by the Mumbai Police. As for Raj Kundra, the report stated that the allegations against Kundra were true, specifically supported by questioning conducted by the Delhi Police. It was decided that both of these conclusions would be subjected to further investigation by the Mudgal Committee.

Following the submission of the February Report, the Supreme Court held a series of hearings betweenApril 16 and April 29 to respond to the many issues and requests arising out of it. A summary of those hearings can be found here.10 One key point was that the BCCI expressed its fundamental objection to the Mudgal Committee report, stating that it was “erroneous”, and requested a new IPL probe panel be appointed.11

Thus, in May 2014, the special bench of the Supreme Court, comprised of Justices TS Thakur and FM Kalifullah, addressed the BCCI’s request by providing external investigative assistance to the Mudgal Committee.12 The Supreme Court did not, however, appoint an entirely new committee, in order to maintain the complete confidentiality of the Mudgal Committee’s February report.

The Mudgal Committee were tasked with continuing their investigations along with the new support to provide more detailed information on the individuals in question, and any spot-fixing or betting involvement. The Supreme Court instructed the Mudgal Committee to continue their investigations until September 2014 and then produce a further supplemental report of their findings, after which the hearings would reconvene.13

The Mudgal Committee’s November Report and the Supreme Court’s November Hearings

On November 3, the Mudgal Committee sent the Supreme Court their supplemental investigative report into the scandal (the "November Report")14, and on Friday, November 14 Court resumed its hearings.15

November 14 Hearing

At that hearing, the Court found three “non playing actors”, as titled by Justice Thakur, not guilty of any involvement with the scandal, thus clearing those individuals without any doubt. Though these three players, whose names remain confidential, were not associated with any corruption charges, they were questioned because of an unidentified incident relating to the Rajasthan Royals (one of the IPL teams associated with the IPL 6 scandal).16

The November Report provided specific information on the four names that were central to the Mudgal Committee’s further investigations. Gurunath Meiyappan (Individual No.1), Raj Kundra (Individual No. 11), Sundar Raman (Individual No. 12), and N. Srinivasan (Individual No. 13), were named in the report for their involvement in the scandal, as follows17:

  • Gurunath Meiyappan, Srinivasan’s son-in-law, was mentioned as a “go-between” for the betters, identified by a “forensic report of the voice sample analysis”. However, we learned through the November report that there is no evidence that can prove Meiyappan’s involvement as there were no eyewitnesses. Thus, all reports against Meiyyappan are based on the matched voice sample and a security personnel testimony on his involvement in the club and in betting.18
  • Raj Kundra was accused and charged of being in touch with bookies. Not reporting this contact is also considered a violation of the Code of Conduct for the BCCI/ IPL. The report also explained that Kundra closely knew a punter who was placing bets on Kundra’s behalf, or at least was a “standing guarantee for his punter friend.” The Rajasthan Police stopped all investigations into Kundra without any reasoning. 19
  • Sundar Raman, a member of the International Cricket Council’s (ICC's) Integrity Working Party, admitted to knowing a bookie, who Raman reportedly met eight times, but Raman stated that he was not aware of the bookie's connection with any betting. Raman had also gained information about Meiyyappan and Kundra’s involvement in betting. However, the ICC Anti-Corruption and Security Unit (ICC-ACSU) chief told Raman that the information was “not actionable information.20
  • N Srinivasan was not found guilty of any betting or match fixing actions, or for any interference with the investigations. However, the report explains that he had knowledge of another unnamed player (Individual 3) violating the Code of Conduct, but did not disclose this information or take further action.21

All four individuals were given four days following the hearing to present any arguments to assist their own cases, and were issued court notices on this time limit and information if they were not in court.22

The Supreme Court has yet to rule on the above four individuals reportedly being aware of, or inquiring about, betting and not reporting it. Not disclosing any knowledge of another’s involvement in betting can be considered a breach under Articles 2.4.2- 2.4.3 of the BCCI/ IPL Anti- Corruption Code, which states:

2.4.2 Failing or refusing to disclose to the ACU BCCI (without undue delay) full details of any approaches or invitations received by the Participant to engage in conduct that would amount to a breach of this Anti-Corruption Code.

2.4.3 Failing or refusing to disclose to the ACU BCCI (without undue delay) full details of any incident, fact, or matter that comes to the attention of a Participant that may evidence an offence under this Anti-Corruption Code by a third party, including (without limitation) approaches or invitations that have been received by any other party to engage in conduct that would amount to a breach of this Anti-Corruption Code.23

Developments following the November 14 Hearing

Developments with Srinivasan

On November 17, it was confirmed that the Mudgal Committee’s November Report cleared Srinivasan of any charges of corruption or manipulation of the IPL probe.24 However, it remains unclear at this stage how the Supreme Court will rule on the tenability or otherwise of Srinivasan’s position in the BCCI. In March 2014, Srinivasan was banned by the Supreme Court from continuing as BCCI president until the conclusion of the scandal hearings,25 although despite this he had planned to contest re-election for President at the BCCI’s Annual General Meeting (AGM), if cleared by the Supreme Court.26

As of November 17, the Supreme Court were yet to determine how Srinivasan’s failure to disclose information will weigh on his reelection hopes. We do know, however, that the BCCI reviewed the Mudgal Committee’s November Report at an emergency meeting on 18 November and decided to clear Srinivasan of all charges as they found the allegations against him unconvincing and not well supported. The BCCI also decided at the meeting to postpone its AGM from November 20 to December 17,27 and announced that it would not be acting against Raman (explained in the next section) as well.28

Srinivasan responded to the statements in the November Report concerning his involvement with Individual 3 by explaining that the incident with that individual was not related to the IPL, or to any corrupt behavior or undertakings. He has, accordingly, requested that the Supreme Court reinstate him as BCCI president.29

As of November 19, 2014, Verma, the CAB secretary and the petitioner in this case, has sent the Mudgal Report to the ICC30 to show that Srinivasan’s actions relating to the IPL 6 scandal should be considered a breach of Article 2.1, ‘General Statement’, of the ICC Code of Ethics, which states:

Each Official[31] shall act in an honest and ethical manner. In order to facilitate the transparent operation of the ICC, conduct that gives the appearance of impropriety will also be unacceptable. Officials shall not engage in any conduct that in any way denigrates the ICC or harms its public image or that brings the ICC into disrepute. Officials must avoid any conduct that is inconsistent with the objectives of the Code of Ethics. No funds or assets of the ICC may be used for any unlawful purpose, and no Official may engage in unlawful conduct.32

Developments with Sundar Raman

Verma has also suggested that the ICC remove Sundar Raman, IPL’s COO.33

On November 23, Raman addressed the Mudgal Committee’s mention of his knowledge of and contact with a bookie, denying the misdemeanor allegations made against him in the report. Raman explained that his role in the IPL requires him to communicate with various people, and also that he values his experience in the field as a “professional with high integrity”. Due to his professional requirements and reputation, Raman argued that his contact with the bookie can not be grounds for a misdemeanor.34

November 24 Hearing

The Special Bench of the Supreme Court continued its hearing on November 24. The hearing focused on conflict of interest allegations against Srinivasan, due to his role as BCCI president and an owner for Chennai Super Kings (CSK), one of the two IPL teams involved in the IPL 6 scandal.35

After hearing the arguments attempting to distinguish between the IPL and the BCCI, the Supreme Court stated that it was impossible to draw a distinction between the two because of how closely the IPL is associated with the BCCI.36

Kapil Sibal, Srinivasan’s lawyer, argued that because Srinivasan is cleared of all charges against him in the IPL scandal by the Mudgal Committee and the BCCI, he should be able to contest the BCCI election for president. The Supreme Court did not however provide a response to this, but Justice Thakur, one of the justices on the Special Bench for the IPL scandal, noted that his team, CSK, was found guilty of being involved with betting.37

With this same line of reasoning, ESPNCricInfo has reported that the Supreme Court told Srinivasan that he was assuming the Supreme Court would also clear him of all charges, when he was still being investigated for CSK’s involvement in betting and conflict of interest allegations. The Supreme Court continued that Srinivasan can not assume that he is completely cleared or permitted to run in the BCCI elections on the basis of the BCCI rules.38

The Supreme Court withheld passing judgement at the November 24 hearing, as it has yet to determine the impact that Srinivasan’s position at an implicated IPL team should have on his guilt, despite the Mudgal Committee and BCCI exonerating him of all other allegations of wrongdoing levied against him. The Court further stated that because the IPL’s recognition results from the popularity of the game and not an individual, the benefit of doubt should be with the game of cricket rather than with Srinivasan in this situation.39

Also, during the November 24 hearing, Nalini Chidambaram, the CAB’s counsel, asked the Supreme Court to reveal the names of Individuals 2 and 3 from the November Report to help his client to argue effectively and without the need for further speculation. To this, the Supreme Court responded by saying that no additional names will be revealed, upholding its decision from November 15.40

As a final note in the November 24 hearing, the Supreme Court decided to reject the CAB’s appeal against Srinivasan, which was specifically against Srinivasan’s role in the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association, where he is also president.41

November 25 Hearing

The hearing resumed on November 2542, and two main points were clarified: 

  1. The Supreme Court announced that all judgement orders relating to the IPL 6 scandal will be announced periodically, not necessarily at one time, due to the type of findings for this case; and
  2. With this, the Supreme Court further noted that the full November Report would be released to the public at an appropriate time.

November 27 Hearing

The remaining arguments from Harish Salve,counsel representing CAB, and the four named players were heard on November 2743.44 That hearing concluded with significant developments to be further addressed, starting with the Supreme Court asking the BCCI if CSK can be disqualified to resolve the conflict of interest issues relating to the IPL 6 scandal.45

The BCCI further asked the Supreme Court whether the BCCI should appoint a new Disciplinary Committee when determining the punishments for individuals involved in the IPL 6 scandal. The Supreme Court clarified that if the BCCI takes this route, it has to hold new elections for the Committee, and no one on the Committee can be from one of the parties in the IPL case.46

The Supreme Court also asked for the owners of CSK to be identified as there seems to be confusion with the Mudgal Committee’s report identifying Meiyappan as CSK's owner. However, for the first time in the IPL 6 hearing, the BCCI accepted that Meiyappan was correctly classified as a team official of CSK in the Mudgal Committee report.47

The Supreme Court advised the BCCI to proceed with its AGM as scheduled on December 17 regardless of Srinivasan contesting the election.48

Of the four players named in the Mudgal Committee’s November Report, Kundra stated at the November 27 hearing that although it was reported that the BCCI suspended him in May 2013, he has yet to receive an official written document notifying him of this action.49

This hearing left Srinivasan’s place in the BCCI and IPL to still be determined. CSK’s suspension and the BCCI’s proposed new Disciplinary Committee also require further clarity. The Supreme Court scheduled the next IPL 6 hearing for Monday, December 1, 2014,and an update will be provided shortly.50

 

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About the Author

Manali Kulkarni

Manali Kulkarni

Manali is the COO at LawInSport and executive contributor of the editorial board for LawInSport. She holds an LLM in Sports Law from Nottingham Law School (Nottingham Trent University).

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