NEW DELHI, July 14: Star-studded Chennai Super Kings, two-time champions in the IPL, and Rajasthan Royals were today suspended from the cash-rich cricket league for two years for the betting activities of their key officials Gurunath Meiyappan and Raj Kundra during the 2013 season.
Meiyappan, the former team principal of CSK, and Kundra, co-owner of the Rajasthan Royals, were suspended for life for indulging in betting and bringing the IPL and the game into disrepute.
The punishment was handed down by a Supreme Court- appointed three-member committee, headed by former Chief Justice of India RM Lodha, putting a spanner on the high-profile T20 league, which began in 2008.
�He (Meiyappan) is declared ineligible for participation in the sport of cricket as explained in the anti-corruption code for a maximum period of five years under article 2.2.1. Two: He is suspended for life from activities as explained in article 7.5 under level 4. And three: he is suspended for life from being involved in any type of cricket matches under section 6, rule 4.2. The above sanctions commence from the date of this order,� Justice Lodha said while giving out the verdict in a packed press conference.
The former CJI then read out exactly the same punishment for Kundra, husband of Bollywood star Shilpa Shetty.
The Committee was constituted by the Supreme Court in January this year with its terms of reference being to announce the quantum of punishment against Meiyappan, Kundra and the two franchisees � India Cements Ltd, owner of CSK and Jaipur IPL, owner of Rajasthan Royals.
�India Cements argued that they have done a lot to grow the game of cricket. But it cannot be a mitigating factor because they as franchise owners did not punish Gurunath, who was clearly identified as a team official, after he was found guilty of betting. It was only the BCCI who suspended Gurunath from participating in cricket,� Justice Lodha said.
�Jaipur IPL claims it is highly celebrated as a nursery of players. But three of its players have been accused of alleged spot-fixing. This shows that all is not well in their handling of affairs. The position of Raj Kundra with the Rajasthan Royals franchise � part owner and team official � means his actions brought the game, BCCI and IPL into disrepute,� he added.
Making scathing remarks against the accused, Justice Lodha said the credibility of the game has been hurt quite grievously.
�Disrepute has been brought to cricket, the BCCI and the IPL to such an extent that there are doubts abound in the public whether the game is clean or not,� Justice Lodha said.
Giving the committee�s observations on Meiyappan, Justice Lodha said it has proved beyond doubt that the CSK official was heavily involved in placing bets on his own team. �His (Gurunath) habit of regularly placing bets in IPL matches renders the argument of his being first offender and unblemished antecedents in previous IPL tournaments of no worth. That he lost up to Rs 60 lakhs in bets shows that he engaged himself in heavy bets. It is his bad luck that he did not make money out of these bets,� he said.
�Any agony suffered by him because of media coverage or any hardship that may have been caused to him is too small in comparison to the huge injury he caused to the reputation and image of the game, the IPL and the BCCI. If the reputation and image of the sport are lost, what remains? Being 40 years of age, he is not young but middle-aged. It is difficult to accept that he has passion for the game,� he added.
After making similar observations on Kundra, the committee, which also comprised retired Supreme Court judges, Ashok Bhan and R Raveendran, took questions from the waiting media and was asked whether any action against IPL COO Sundar Raman, who was also accused of wrongdoing, is being contemplated.
Justice Lodha said it will be some time before his fate is decided.
�About Sundar Raman, we examined the material about him and we believe it requires further investigation. Vivek Priyadarshi has been appointed by the Supreme Court to look into it and he is examining the matter, we are awaiting his report. After that we will decide what will be the action,� he said.
The committee said 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,� he said. � PTI