Justice Mukul Mudgal’s report may have helped turn a page for Indian law and sports

Updated: Feb 14, 2014, 15:52 PM IST

Justice Mukul Mudgal submitted his report to the Supreme Court of India on the Indian Premier League (IPL) spot-fixing and betting controversy on February 10. In the process of uncovering the wrongdoings in a league, the Mudgal report may have opened a can of worms. Nishad Pai Vaidya examines the possibilities in the aftermath of the landmark report for Indian sport.

A storm is brewing in Indian cricket — one that could potentially engulf heavyweights. Justice Mukul Mudgal’s report, submitted to the Supreme Court on February 10, may have opened a can of worms — leaving India’s cricketing fraternity red-faced. If one thought the match-fixing saga of 2000 was the biggest scandal to hit the sport in the country, there may be a bigger and a more testing battle ahead for Indian cricket. It is time the administrators wake up and take measures to ensure that the gentleman’s game restores its pristine charm.

For years, there were murmurs about wrongdoing in the Indian Premier League (IPL). It was only rumour and hearsay, with no concrete evidence at hand. Then came a day in May 2013 when former India fast bowler Shathakumaran Sreesanth was arrested on allegations of spot-fixing. It was then that Indian cricket braced itself for more skeletons in the cupboard. The Mudgal report has perhaps confirmed the worst fears of the Indian fan, one who always liked to believe that his sport had regained its credibility after the nightmare of 2000.

What will concern the fans the most is the remark about the certain capped Indian players involvement in the misdemeanors in question. According to the report, one of the players, who was a part of the 2011 World Cup squad and is a member of the current Indian team is under the scanner. These murky scenarios present a grave danger to Indian cricket. But, it is just the lull before the storm as the names would be revealed on March 7, 2014.

Apart from that, the report clearly exposes a lot of structural failures in the governance and administration of the IPL. The curious case of Gurunath Meiyappan, N Srinivasan’s son-in-law, perfectly puts forth the point. At the outset, there was a laughable cover-up to hide the fact that he was indeed a part of the Chennai Super Kings. The report officially brushes aside preposterous claims of him being an “enthusiast” who followed the team. Plus, the franchise has to deal with a bigger blow — Meiyappan’s involvement in betting and passing information has been established. Skipper MS Dhoni’s image has also taken a hit for he supported the “enthusiast” theory before the commission. Would this seal Chennai’s fate?

This is where the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) would be tested. Would they dismiss a franchise owned by their president, who is now the most powerful man in world cricket? The franchise agreement clearly indicates that any official’s wrongdoings can get the whole team dismissed. With all the money and revenue at stake will the BCCI have the courage to take that move?

If the Supreme Court does pass an order in that regard, how much will it affect Srinivasan? Despite all the controversies, he has stayed clear (by stepping aside of course) and has gone on to rule world cricket with the de facto takeover of the International Cricket Council (ICC).

Thus, in the process of investigating the IPL spot-fixing and betting controversy, Justice Mudgal’s report has dug up more graves and uncovered a lot of muck in Indian cricket. There certainly is a need of a huge clean-up operation, for Indian cricket’s very credibility is at stake. But, it may not be left to the BCCI alone to take a stand and alter the course. The government may well come into play and enforce laws criminalizing spot-fixing and match-fixing. At the same time, it may also open the door for the legalization of betting — some that is said to be the root of all these problems.

If the allegations leveled against the players and certain franchise officials are true, they may face a ban at max. However, a stringent law against these malpractices will certainly help in fighting the menace — albeit they won’t apply in retrospect. Indian cricket may dread the findings of the Mudgal report, but in due course, they will reap the benefits of a thorough investigation. In fact, Justice Mudgal may have just helped turn a page in Indian law and sports. It is better to digest the hard facts for a better tomorrow!

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