August,21,2015: Madras High Court on Friday issued notice to BCCI on a petition by Chennai Super Kings challenging the order of Justice Lodha Committee suspending it from the Indian Premier League over the 2013 betting scam involving its top official Gurunath Meiyappan.
A division bench, comprising Chief Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice T.S. Sivagnanam, also allowed Cricket Association of Bihar, on whose plea the Supreme Court had directed probe in IPL-6 betting and spot fixing scandal, to implead in the case.
The court adjourned the hearing to next Thursday.
In its petition, city-based Indian Cements Ltd, owner of Chennai Super Kings (CSK), also sought a stay on the committee’s last month order.
It contended that the committee’s order was against fundamental principles of natural justice and a fair hearing.
Dhoni-led CSK and Rajasthan Royals were on July 14 suspended for two years from the League following the 2013 betting scam involving their top officials Meiyappan and Raj Kundra.
Son-in-law of the then BCCI chief N Srinivasan, Meiyappan, a former Team Principal of CSK, and Kundra, co-owner of Jaipur IPL that runs Rajasthan Royals (RR), were suspended for life from any matches conducted by BCCI.
The punishments were handed down by a three-member panel headed by former CJI R M Lodha which was asked by the Supreme Court to decide the quantum of punishments after finding them guilty of betting.
India Cements, in its petition, had contended that imposing punishment on the franchise (CSK) without going into the charges or the offence committed was against the principles of natural justice and a fair hearing.
It said refusal of Justice Lodha committee to enter into the dispute of whether India Cements was guilty of violating clause 4.1.1.of IPL operation rules had led to “grave miscarriage of justice”.
While referring to the Supreme Court order in January last, the petition said “Gurunath Meiyappan had been (found) guilty of betting but not spot fixing, match fixing or misuse of inside information…Meiyappaan never had shares in India Cements nor was he is in the management of the company.”
The judges adjourned the case for further hearing to August 27.
The bench said, “We would like to hear the concerned parties on the issue of maintainability of the petition first in the context of the relief sought in the past proceedings and orders passed by Honourable Supreme Court before we proceed to examine the issue on merits“.
The court also ordered issuance of notice to India Cements, besides BCCI.
CSK submitted that Justice Lodha Committee ought to have heard it before passing the suspension order, as the committee had been duly informed that ownership of the team had changed from India Cements Limited to it.
“The sanctions imposed by the Lodha Committee are illegal and beyond the reference made by the Supreme Court in its order dated January 22, 2015,” the counsel for CSK, Dushyant Dave, submitted.
He submitted that the inquiry and evidence surrounded only Gurunath Meiyappan as an individual and the question of imposing punishment could not be on the team.
“Can a team be indicted due to the conduct of an individual, be him son or son-in-law of someone?”, Dave asked.
“During the two years of suspension, CSK would lose its brand and it would cease to exist as a team,” he contended, adding, “thousands of fans of CSK would be aggrieved“.
“The brand dies, team dies, and the city itself loses, during the two years,” he contended.
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