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IPL scam: SC declares Meiyappan, Kundra guilty of match fixing, betting

The Supreme Court on Thursday appointed a three-member committee to decide the fate of the two teams involved in the match fixing and betting scandal in the 2013 edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL).

The two teams are Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and Rajasthan Royals (RR). The panel has former Chief Justice of India, R M Lodha. The other two are Ashok Bhan and R V Raveendran.

The committee will give a report within six months on what amendments can be made to the rules to ensure no commercial interest spoils the game in future.

The court asked N Srinivasan, ‘president in exile’ of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), to choose between heading it and CSK. Srinivasan is managing director of India Cements, which owns the CSK franchise.

It gave Srinivasan a clean chit regarding the match fixing, betting and cover-up charges but said the conflict of interest in this case could not be ignored. It asked Srinivasan and anyone else in BCCI with commercial interest in the IPL to stay away from the body’s coming elections, which it said should be held within six weeks. The bench, headed by T S Thakur, struck down the amendment in the rules which enabled administrators to have interest in the IPL.

Rejecting the argument that the court could not interfere in sports bodies, the court asserted that it can exercise its power of judicial review as BCCI is not a private entity but discharges public functions. It also declared that RR co-owner Raj Kundra and Gurunath Meiyappan, son-in-law of Srinivasan,were both guilty of match fixing and betting. And, that the three-member panel would decide the punishment.

Earlier, during the litigation, the SC had questioned why the two teams had not been disqualified. According to the IPL Code of Conduct, any team whose players or officials are found guilty of malpractices like match fixing and betting will be so penalised.

The axing of the two teams will reduce the tournament duration from 60 matches in IPL 2014 to 34. This would mean broadcaster Multi Screen Media (MSM) will have to double its advertisement rates to get the same revenues. Or tell BCCI they’d pay proportionately less for the broadcasting rights. CSK and RR together fork out Rs 95 crore as franchise fee to BCCI.

Players with CSK and also find themselves on uncertain ground. The teams forked out Rs 113 crore to buy players in the 2014 auction. Another revenue loss will come in the form of franchise sponsorships. The two teams account for around Rs 75 crore in sponsorship money from various brand associations. Additionally, franchisees will lose gate money and stadia revenue.

The SC’s observation also throws open the question of the fate of IPL in general and particularly the 2015 season. According to people in the know, the contracts between the owners and BCCI explicitly state that the tournament would take place with at least eight teams. This means BCCI will have to call for a bidding of the eighth franchise (which might or might not be from the cities of Chennai and Jaipur) or the IPL could take a year’s break.

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