In aÂ landmark judgement, the Lodha panel, which was appointed by the Supreme Court of India, suspended the owners of IPL franchises Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals for a period of two years in connection with the betting and spot-fixing scandals in the IPL. This follows the IPL rules that state that a franchisee can be punished if the team owners are found guilty of betting or betting related activities.
The suspension of the team franchises followed the severe punishments doled out to Gurunath Meiyappan (India Cements) and Raj Kundra (Jaipur IPL Pvt Ltd) who were banned for life from all BCCI-related cricket activities. Gurunath Meiyappan and Raj Kundra, who were indicted in betting activities during IPL 2013, were said to have brought the game to disrepute in addition to their betting misdemeanors.
Consequentially, the two franchises cannot take part in the IPL for a period of two years under the current ownership. The committee also said that they had thought about the fate of the players involved but decided on a severe punishment for the greater good of the game.
“The players are free. They will not be attached to a particular team of the franchise that is suspended,” Justice Lodha said.”We thought that cricket is bigger than individuals and then the financial loss to players and franchises is not of significance,” he added.
The sentencing panel headed by former Chief Justice of India, RM Lodha and also comprising ex-judges Ashok Bhan and RV Raveendran, was tasked to determine “the quantum of punishment, if any, to be imposed on Gurunath Meiyappan and Raj Kundra and also their respective franchises” based on the findings of the Mukul Mudgal panel.
Contrary to claims from India Cements, former owning body of CSK, that Gurunath Meiyappan was just a ‘cricket enthusiast’, the Supreme Court of India ruled, in its verdict based on the 130-page findings of the Mudgal committee probe, that both Meiyappan and Raj Kundra (Rajasthan Royals) were indeed ‘Team Officials’ and that they had indulged in betting activities.
While Justice Lodha claimed that the two franchises stood suspended as of pronouncement, the technical ramifications of the judgement regarding the teams remain unclear. A full copy of the the report will be sent to BCCI, who then have the option of challenging the judgement with the bench that initially constituted the Lodha committee.
The Lodha committee added that its observations with respect to the much-talked about conflict of interest in the BCCI would be given after completing interactions with various stakeholders of the game.
“Conflict of interest questions have been raised, once we complete the process of interacting with all the stakeholders, we will take a view on that. That exercise is not complete. This order is confined to determining the quantum of punishment to the two individuals and the franchises,” Justice Lodha said.
“We have interacted with 40-45 people, we are yet to meet a few others. Once that is done we will decide what guidelines are to be given. Our idea is to get inputs from all stakeholders. It is not confined to cricket administrators and politicians,” he added.