New Delhi, July 30: Rattled by the Bombay High Court order declaring BCCI's two-member probe panel to look into the IPL spot-fixing scandal as "illegal", the Board's top officials were today engaged in hectic discussions to chalk out the future course of action.
Hearing a Public Interest Litigation filed by the Cricket Association of Bihar, a division bench of justices S J Vazifdar and M S Sonak declared the two-member BCCI probe panel "unconstitutional". The High Court order comes just two days after the BCCI panel submitted its report which cleared Board President-in-exile N Srinivasan's franchise Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals owner Raj Kundra of charges of betting.
"We will wait for the judgement to come into our hands before deciding our next step," BCCI's interim chief Jagmohan Dalmiya said. Moments after the High Court order came out, the BCCI's top officials started consultations on the implications of the development as a crucial IPL Governing Council and the Board's working committee meeting is scheduled here on August 2.
Srinivasan, who was expected to be back at the helm of affairs after stepping aside for the duration of the BCCI inquiry, did not comment on the order which came as a massive jolt to him. "The only thing I have heard is that the writ has been dismissed and no relief has been granted. I don't want to say anything more," Srinivasan told reporters when his reaction was sought on the order.
The petition in the Bombay High Court alleged blatant bias by Srinivasan, who is the vice-Chairman and Managing Director of India Cements Ltd, which owns Chennai Super Kings. The PIL urged the court to direct BCCI to recall its order constituting the probe panel and instead the court shall form a panel of retired judges as it may deem fit to hold inquiry against Srinivasan's son-in-law and CSK Team Principal Gurunath Meiyappan, Kundra and Rajasthan Royals in the scandal.
BCCI and Srinivasan, in their reply affidavits, termed the petition as "motivated and vested with personal interests." The development has clearly put a spanner on Srinivasan's return to the BCCI top post since the entire probe report's validity itself is under question.
"It will be now very difficult for Srinivasan to come back as BCCI President in view of this development. The BCCI officials will have a discussion and chalk out the future course of action," a top BCCI official said. The BCCI will also have to decide whether to it would go ahead with its scheduled August 2 meeting here.
"Since the meeting has already been convened, it may go ahead and all these matters could be discussed there," the official said. The IPL spot-fixing scandal broke out when India pacer S Sreesanth, along with two other Rajasthan Royals players Ajit Chandila and Ankeet Chavan and 11 bookies, was arrested for alleged spot-fixing in the IPL.
The contracts of the tainted players were terminated by their franchise, which also lodged a criminal complaint against them. It snowballed into a crisis for the BCCI when Board President N Srinivasan's son-in-law and Chennai Super Kings Team Principal Meiyappan was arrested on charges of betting on May 26.
A internal probe panel, originally comprising former judges Chouta, Balasubramanian and the then BCCI Secretary Sanjay Jagdale, was constituted on May 28 to investigate the allegations against Meiyappan, who maintained his innocence after getting bail.
Srinivasan, who owns the CSK franchise, remained defiant through the turmoil and refused to resign but had to step aside as BCCI President after a stormy emergent Board meeting on June 2 where Dalmiya took charge of an interim arrangement to run the Board's affairs pending the inquiry.
The upheaval led to the resignations of Board Secretary Sanjay Jagdale and Treasurer Ajay Shirke, who asked for Srinivasan's resignation on moral grounds.