IPL Scam: BCCI Suggests Three-Man Probe Panel to SC

Faced with a credibility crisis, the BCCI today suggested to the Supreme Court a three-member committee, including former cricketer Ravi Shastri and ex-CBI director R K Raghavan, to probe the IPL spot-fixing scandal but the move was promptly opposed by the petitioner Aditya Verma.

Former Calcutta High Court Chief Justice J N Patel was the other member of the proposed panel which was formed at the Working Committee of the Board in its emergent meeting here.

It is learnt that former Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee's name was also considered in the meeting before the Working Committee zeroed in on the three persons.

The SC has directed the BCCI in the last hearing of the case on April 16 to suggest names of persons who will conduct a "fair probe" into the IPL VI spot-fixing and betting scandal.

The apex court is expected to consider the suggestion by the BCCI in the next hearing on April 22 and pass orders on the future course of the probe.

The Emergent WC meeting has been convened following demand from some state units affiliated to the Board after the Supreme Court's hearing.

Soon after the names of the probe panel was suggested, the unrecognised Cricket Association of Bihar chief Aditya Verma, who has dragged BCCI to the Supreme Court, opposed the committee and demanded a probe by either the Central Bureau of Investigation or National Intelligence Agency.

"Only CBI or NIA Enquiry is acceptable for me because if Hon'ble apex court-formed Justice Mudgal Committee is not acceptable by BCCI then why I will consider their probe panel," said Verma in a statement.

Verma also objected to the inclusion of Shastri in the panel.

"I have no any doubt about credential of two members but Mr Ravi Shastri is a paid employee of BCCI from long time. Last few days after IPL 6 scam he always read shrini chalisha, so no hope from Shastri," Verma said.

Verma has earlier demanded that the Board's former President Shashank Manohar head the panel to probe into the IPL scandal.

On April 16, the Supreme Court had said that the BCCI should conduct a probe against N Srinivasan and 12 others in the betting and spot fixing scandal to maintain its institutional autonomy as the court cannot "close its eyes" to the allegations made by the Justice Mukul Mudgal committee.

A bench of justices A K Patnaik and F M Ibrahim Kalifulla, however, had expressed reservations over a SIT or CBI probe, saying that institutional autonomy of the Board has to be maintained and a committee constituted by the BCCI to look into the issue would be preferred.

The SC, while turning down Srinivasan's fresh plea to return to the helm of the Board's affairs as its elected chief, has ruled that he cannot be given back the BCCI's reins till he comes out clean in a probe conducted against him and 12 others, including India-capped cricketers, whose names have been mentioned by Justice Mudgal Committee report in the IPL corruption scandal. 

An official, who attended the Working Committee meeting, said that the Supreme Court will decide on the person who will head the committee.

"Who will head the committee will be decided by the Supreme Court. Our job was to suggest names for the probe and we have done that," the official told PTI.

BCCI Secretary Sanjay Patel was not ready to officially give the names of the three persons suggested to the SC by the BCCI to probe the IPL scandal.

"We will give the names of the persons to the Supreme Court only," he said.

Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) joint secretary P V Shetty said a Special General Body meeting will be held next month to find a replacement for Srinivasan in the Board's Disciplinary Committee as per the SC order.

"There will be a Special General Body meeting in the second week of May," he said.

"Today's Working Committee meeting went off well. All the (BCCI) members were satisfied with the names in the probe committee."

It is learnt that three officials whose associations were not part of this Working Committee meeting -- PC Mathew from Kerala, Niranjan Shah of Saurashtra and Tripura's Arindam Ganguly -- also attended the meeting.

Raghavan, who had headed the CBI inquiry into the high-profile match-fixing investigation in 1999-2000, said he will his best as a member of the probe committee.

"I would look to contribute and give my best. This is not a new territory for me as I was there in 1999-2000 match fixing case, when I was head of CBI. So, that experience will help me greatly in participating in this investigation," Raghavan told reporters.

He said he was not willing to jump the gun and would rather wait.

"I am pleasantly surprised and this comes out of the blue. I would not like to jump the gun now. Let me take one step forward, wait for a couple of days. Let me understand what they want me to do," he added.

Former BCCI president A C Muthiah said it looked "quite an independent" panel though he raised doubts over Shastri's presence.

"It looks quite an independent board except that Ravi has been in IPL and cricket commentary, so I don't know how much independence he will have," Muthiah said.

Emerging story. Watch this space for updates as more details come in
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