SUPREME COURT’S BCCI/IPL VERDICT: REFRESHINGLY ENGAGING

Reading it is refreshingly engaging.

By the nature of the issue in question, some Supreme Court judgements become landmark, redefining the way the matter concerning the issue would be seen in future.

That is going to be the case with Cricket after the yesterday’s verdict by the Supreme Court of India. Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), an outfit draped in secrecy so far, manages affairs of cricket in India and is largely responsible for bringing bad name to the game, a game that has been a mass phenomenon in India, making Indian cricketers and the Indian Board richest among their peers in the world fraternity.

The IPL Spot Fixing Verdict by the Supreme Court Bench of Justice T. S. Thakur and Justice Fakkir Mohamed Ibrahim Kalifulla has the potential to change the way BCCI has managed the affairs of the game so far, and is for good, aiming to bring and strengthen the elements of transparency and answerability in cricket’s administration in India.

The some 130 pages verdict focuses heavily on cleaning the game with observations like:

“Such is the passion for this game in this country that cricketers are seen as icons by youngsters, middle aged and the old alike. Any organization or entity that has such pervasive control over the game and its affairs and such powers as can make dreams end up in smoke or come true cannot be said to be undertaking any private activity.”

“The BCCI has in no uncertain terms declared its resolve to protect the fundamental imperatives constituting the essence of the game of cricket and its determination to take every step in its power to prevent corrupt betting practices undermining the integrity of the sport including any effort to influence the outcome of any match. Unfortunately, however, the amendment to Rule 6.2.4 (allowing BCCI administrators to have commercial interests in BCCI products like IPL) clearly negates the declarations and resolves of the BCCI by permitting situations in which conflict of interest would grossly erode the confidence of the people in the authenticity, purity and integrity of the game.”

“An amendment which strikes at the very essence of the game as stated in the Anti Corruption Code cannot obviously co-exist with the fundamental imperatives.”

“Conflict of interest situation is a complete anti-thesis to everything recognized by BCCI as constituting fundamental imperatives of the game hence unsustainable and impermissible in law.”

“The question is whether the BCCI can afford to see the game lose its credibility in the eyes of those who watch it, by allowing an impression to gather ground that what goes on in the name of the game is no more than a farce because of sporting frauds like betting, match fixing and the like.”

“Can the BCCI live with the idea of the game being seen only as a means to cheat the unsuspecting and gullible spectators watching the proceedings whether in the stadium or on the television with the passion one rarely sees in any other sporting enterprise.”

“BCCI’s commercial plans for its own benefit and the benefit of the players are bound to blow up in smoke, if the people who watch and support the game were to lose interest or be indifferent because, they get to know that some business interests have hijacked the game for their own ends or that the game is no longer the game they know or love because of frauds on and off the field.”

“There is no manner of doubt whatsoever that the game enjoys its popularity and raises passions only because of what it stands for and because the people who watch the sport believe that it is being played in the true spirit of the game without letting any corrupting influence come anywhere near the principles and fundamental imperatives considered sacrosanct and inviolable.”

“All told whatever be the format of the game and whatever be the commercial angles to it, the game is what it is, only if it is played in its pristine form free from any sporting fraud.”

“The fundamental imperatives, to which BCCI is avowedly committed in the Anti Corruption Code, cannot be diluted leave alone neglected or negated.”

“BCCI is a very important institution that discharges important public functions. Demands of institutional integrity are, therefore, heavy and need to be met suitably in larger public interest. Individuals are birds of passage while institutions are forever. The expectations of the millions of cricket lovers in particular and public at large in general, have lowered considerably the threshold of tolerance for any mischief, wrong doing or corrupt practices which ought to be weeded out of the system.”

And as a natural corollary, major part of the verdict deliberates on addressing the issue of ‘conflict of interest’ and its unethical realms engulfing BCCI and how BCCI is answerable to the people of India with its ‘public duties’.

“The functions of the Board are clearly public functions, which, till such time the State intervenes to takeover the same, remain in the nature of public functions, no matter discharged by a society registered under the Registration of Societies Act.”

Cricket has been like a religion in India. If we have discourses like ‘cricket’s ungentlemanly avatar’ or ‘cricket losing popularity in India’ or ‘cricket is no more a religion in India’, BCCI has to carry the blame for it, because in the blind rush to maintain a tight grip on its culture of secrecy and ‘cronyism’ and to further the vested interests as with commercialization came the increased wealth creation opportunities, the BCCI top brass started going even lower, breaking all norms of probity and N. Srinivasan was its worst manifestation.

That worst manifestation saw its spell lifting yesterday.

IPL Fixing

SUPREME COURT’S BCCI/IPL VERDICT: REFRESHINGLY ENGAGING

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey–https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

IPL VERDICT: SEVEN QUESTIONS SUPREME COURT’S VERDICT IS BASED ON

The seven questions the Supreme Court deliberated on to lay down the roadmap to the further course of action to clean BCCI, to cleanse Indian Cricket to take the IPL Spot Fixing probe to its final conclusion are:

1. If BCCI comes under judicial review?

The apex court says yes. The Verdict reads – BCCI may not be State under Article 12 of the Constitution but is certainly amenable to writ jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution of India.

2. If Gurunath Meiyappan and Raj Kundra were team officials and if they were involved in betting?

The court says yes to both.

3. If Gurunath Meiyappan and Raj Kundra were team officials and if they were found guilty, what would be the future course of action?

The verdict copy reads – The misconduct against these two individuals is actionable as per the relevant rules to which we have referred in detail. Not only that, we have held that action under the rules can also be taken against the franchisees concerned. We have noticed that that the quantum of sanction/punishment can vary depending upon the gravity of the misconduct of the persons committing the same.

4. If N Srinivasan was involved in covering-up the IPL Spot Fixing episode?

The court says no – but not without making scathing remarks on Srinivasan’s overall conduct, putting him in the dock. The verdict says the allegation wasn’t proved but it doesn’t mean the allegation was baseless. The court does accepts the ‘element of suspicion’ on the part of Srinivasan’s conduct in the spot-fixing cover-up affair.

5. If the BCCI amendment of its Regulation 6.4.2 allowing its administrators to have commercial interests in IPL, Champions League and Twenty-20 was legally unethical and unacceptable?

The court says yes, it was ‘legally bad’ – The Amendment to Rule 6.2.4 permitting Administrators of BCCI to acquire or hold commercial interests in BCCI like IPL, champions league and T-20 held to be bad.

The court struck down the amendment saying Srinivasan’s simultaneous roles as the BCCI chief and IPL team owner were a clear-cut case of ‘conflict of interest’ and the conduct was not acceptable and Srinivasan needed to choose between BCCI and IPL.

6. If Sundar Raman, the IPL Chief Operating Officer (COO) was guilty?

The Supreme Court has ordered further probe on Sundar Raman’s role in the IPL Spot Fixing scandal, placing him firmly under scanner.

The verdict elaborates: Mr. Sundar Raman was, and continues to be the Chief Operating Officer of IPL. He has held and continues to hold a very important position in the entire system. On his own showing he was dealing with practically all aspects of organization of the game, including facilitating whenever necessary the appearance and participation of celebrities and organizing tickets, accreditation cards and such other matters. He was, therefore, the spirit behind the entire exercise and cannot be said to be unconcerned with what goes on in the course of the tournament especially if it has the potential of bringing disrepute to the game/BCCI.

We are, therefore, not inclined to let the allegations made against Mr. Sundar Raman go un-probed, even if it means a further investigation by the investigating team provided to the probe committee or by any other means. Truth about the allegations made against Mr. Sundar Raman, must be brought to light, for it is only then that all suspicions about the fraudulent activities and practices floating in the media against the BCCI and its administrators in several proceedings before different courts can be given a quietus.

7. What should be the future course of action – on cleaning BCCI and cleansing Cricket run by it and taking the IPL Spot Fixing probe to its finality?

Giving directions on N Srinivasan, Sundar Raman, Raj Kundra, Gurunath Meiyappan, Chennai Super Kings, Rajasthan Royals, BCCI and IPL Spot Fixing episode – the court formed a three member committed to be headed by R. M. Lodha, former Chief Justice – to probe the matter further and to come with guidelines on revamping BCCI – with a deadline of six months. Ashok Bhan and R. V. Raveendran, former Supreme Court judges are other members of the committee.

IPL Fixing

IPL VERDICT: SEVEN QUESTIONS SUPREME COURT’S VERDICT IS BASED ON

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey–https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

SACHIN, THE LAST SYMBOLISM OF MY LOVE FOR CRICKET

Here comes our Narottam Puri, the commentator with his silky voice. Here comes our little cricket master. The excitement in the air, its flow in the veins, its manifestation in the breathing, to tell the scores, to inform about every wicket fall – that was the love for cricket that I lived, a love that Sachin Tendulkar became the last symbolism of.

I was mad about cricket. For elders and friends, I was a walking data-bank on cricket. Plans to plan the next day, the next summer holidays for cricketing adventures always cornered the maximum chunk of whatever little grey-matter I used to have then.

That was until the gentleman’s game started getting more colourful.

Plain, white, simple – cricket was an immaculate love of many. Being colourful is good, is precious, but it didn’t suit the modern version of cricket. Cricket became less and less inspiring and connecting as it got more and more colourful.

As Sachin Tendulkar retires from cricket, the nostalgia of being a cricket-crazy boy revisits me again. For me, Sachin was its last embodiment and I believe there would many others sharing this feeling.

Sachin Tendulkar, for millions, is, undoubtedly, the last cricketing icon who has become synonymous with the game.

Sachin began in an era when cricket happened to be like a religion for the fans, the fans who were in hundreds of millions. Soon, performance and the spirit of sportsmanship made him the most bankable star of it. His aura spread further with the progress of his career. He came to be adorned as the god of cricket in a cricket-crazy country that India was.

After the likes of Sunil Gavaskar, Kapil Dev and Kris Srikkanth hanged their boots, Sachin was the only player many would watch a match for. For me (and for millions others), any cricketing game was restricted to the duration Sachin was batting (if India was looking to slip in the game).

Then, the whole nation crooned to the rhythm of each shot, followed pace of each delivery.

Sachin became the reason for hoping against the hope in Indian cricket, even if he was running out of form, even if he was being written off.

That was when cricket happened to be like a religion in India.

Cricket is not religion anymore. Like any other game involving big money, it has become a hotbed of controversies.

Cricket ceased to be a gentleman’s game the day the first big match-fixing scandal broke involving Indian and South African players.

It was a shocker. It humiliated my feelings, my passion, my zeal for the game (and so of millions others). I followed and played cricket with such an uncontrollable love for the game that I didn’t care much even for my board exams.

The loss of interest was sudden when the scandal broke and with every subsequent cricketing scandal, it grew into apathy.

Scores became irrelevant. Outcome didn’t matter anymore. When the cricket statistician in me died a silent death I couldn’t realize.

But, there was still one connect left.

That was Sachin Tendulkar.

A down-to-earth cricketing god, drawn away from controversies, talking and living humility, talking and living cricket!

Though the fixing scandals took away cricket’s soul that made it a game of gentlemen; that made people passionate about it; that added the feeling of nationalism at stake with every moment of a match, it was STILL different when Sachin would come to play.

I would watch him playing. I would still sit and cheer for India as long as he was batting or bowling. I would still revisit the moments of nervous break-down like situations when the game was in critical situation and when we all would be expecting Sachin to deliver victory for us, for India.

Though cricket lost its gentlemanly character but Sachin continued to be the eternal brand ambassador of cricket’s gentlemanly era.

The ‘gentleman’ and the ‘master-blaster’ icons that the Indian cricket has produced include great names like Gavaskar, Kapil, Srikkanth, and Ganguly but Sachin is the last and the longest-lasting one and he’ll remain so.

Watching each delivery with fingers crossed, holding the breath, employing and exercising superstitious gestures like being glued to a place, in a particular posture, or not speaking and so on – that was the love of cricket and Sachin only multiplied the joy of it by taking the spirit of the game to the higher levels.

That would not be the case anymore.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

SACHIN TENDULKAR, THE ETERNAL GENTLEMAN OF CRICKET

It’s a day to feel good and why not.

The whole country, in fact, the cricket fans spread across the countries were celebrating this day and Sachin Tendulkar was celebrating them.

It was a day of high mutual respect when emotions were on an innocent display for a public figure, something not seen in the recent Indian history.

Indeed it was a rare view, because Sachin Tendulkar could achieve the universal acclaim while sustaining as one of the last of the rare breed of the ‘larger-than-life-but-down-to-earth’ super-achievers.

Sachin Tendulkar is much more than a cricketing icon.

He is the last of the league of the ‘people-larger-than-life’ by their self-made ‘life events’ with a pan-India acceptance.

He is the last of the league of cricketers enjoying uncompromised popularity and unquestioned respect.

He is the last ‘gentlemanly’ icon of the cricketing world.

Sachin Tendulkar is the eternal gentleman of cricket, the gentleman’s game that ceased to be gentlemanly a long ago.

He is an Indian Icon from the cricketing world who could transcend the confines of the sporting world in this cricket-crazy country to become synonymous with Indianness, making, thus, an everlasting connect not just with his fans, but even with the people who didn’t love cricket.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/