India’s Supreme Court has urged the powerful head of the country’s cricket board to stand down while an investigation is conducted into illegal betting, saying his refusal to quit so far was “nauseating”.
A two-judge panel warned it could order N. Srinivasan, regarded as the most powerful man in world cricket, to stand down unless he did so voluntarily as his continued presence in his post was hampering the investigation which involves his son-in-law.
“Unless the BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India) president stands down, there can be no fair investigation. It’s nauseating,” Justice A.K. Patnaik told the court in New Delhi.
“If you don’t step down, then we will pass an order,” he added.
The bench is looking at a damning report that it commissioned last year into wrongdoing in the Indian Premier League (IPL) following a betting and spot-fixing scandal that rocked the domestic Twenty20 tournament.
The report, released in February, concluded that Srinivasan’s son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan could be guilty of illegal betting on IPL games, in a major blow to Srinivasan, who is due to take over as head of the International Cricket Council in July.
India is also the most powerful country in world cricket due to its vast television audience which enables the board to generate almost 70 per cent of the game’s revenues.
Meiyappan was the team principal of Chennai Super Kings, an IPL franchise owned by Srinivasan’s India Cements company and captained by national skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
The report, by a panel headed by retired judge Mukul Mudgal, suggested that Meiyappan may have passed on team information to outsiders for illegal betting, but did not specify what information or to whom.
“There are no definite findings by the Mudgal committee, but the allegations are of a very serious nature,” Patnaik told the court.
“Whether the BCCI will act on the findings of the probe panel is a big, big question,” he added.
The judge asked the BCCI’s lawyers to go away and read a sealed section of the report and return on Thursday when the case will continue.
Meiyappan and others have also been the target of a separate police investigation which has resulted in charges of forgery, cheating, criminal conspiracy, breach of contract and handing critical team information to alleged bookmakers.
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.