The Supreme Court has rapped its knuckles, boxed its ears, slapped its cheeks and punched it in the solar plexus, but the Board of Control for Cricket in India has clearly not learnt its lesson. Hence the embarrassment of having its three-man panel rejected by the Supreme Court.
The BCCI obviously pays obeisance at the other SC – Srinivasan’s Court. Not only was the sole voice of sanity, Shashank Manohar, silenced, a Working Committee member thought it would be entertaining to name a panel comprising three Bollywood actresses. That is how serious the BCCI is.
Or was there a more devious objective? Srinivasan’s men, beholden to him for every small favour, might have deliberately chosen three candidates unlikely to find favour with the Supreme Court and thus served two masters simultaneously. On the one hand, they could fulfil the court’s requirements, while telling Srinivasan they had done their best by him, so please do not stop doling out the favours. How to run with the hares and hunt with the hounds is one of the first things an official learns.
Mr RK Raghavan, the former CBI chief, did sterling work when the fixing scandal first broke a decade and a half ago. There is no reason to imagine that he might pull his punches now – but the fact that he is secretary of a league team in the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association (of which Srinivasan is president) meant that the old bogey of conflict of interest might raise its head. Sadly, the BCCI’s manipulative ways sometimes tend to mark the most upright of men.
That Justice Patel is interim BCCI president Shivlal Yadav’s brother-in-law should not matter either. Except that Yadav himself is under a cloud for misappropriation of funds, and anybody close to him, sadly again, is seen as unsuitable by implication.
This is the curse of the BCCI – that men with fine records should be seen as unfit for the job.
There is no such confusion in the case of the third member, however. Ravi Shastri is a paid cheerleader of the BCCI. He may not wear short skirts and pom poms and prance at the edge of the boundary like the female counterparts at the IPL, but from the commentary box, he does pretty much the same thing. His is the verbal equivalent of the cheerleader’s work.
Such a man, trained for years to sing hosannas to the IPL and the tainted Board president, was suddenly expected to change direction and find fault with both?
There is sense, therefore, in the Supreme Court’s decision to go back to Justice Mudgal and ask his committee to take up the investigation.
But professional investigators have to come into it too: the CBI, the police forces in Delhi, Mumbai and Tamil Nadu. In another month, it will be a year since television pictures of a player with a towel tucked into his trousers shocked a nation. In all that time, the BCCI has merely stonewalled the investigation. Many wasted meetings, air fares, hotel accommodations and daily allowances later, it has nothing to show for its efforts to clean up the game. Neither the spirit nor the flesh is willing.
It will have to be the Supreme Court, after all.