India's Supreme Court urges cricket chief Srinivasan to quit
N. Srinivasan, pictured in Singapore on February 8, 2014, has been asked by India's Supreme Court to stand down while an investigation is conducted into illegal betting - by Roslan Rahman
A two-judge panel warned it could order N. Srinivasan, regarded as the most powerful man in world cricket, to stand down unless he did so voluntarily as his continued presence in his post was hampering the investigation which involves his son-in-law.
"Unless the BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India) president stands down, there can be no fair investigation. It's nauseating," Justice A.K. Patnaik told the court in New Delhi.
"Why is Srinivasan sticking to his chair? If you don't step down, then we will pass an order," he added.
The bench is looking at a damning report that it commissioned last year into wrongdoing in the Indian Premier League (IPL) following a betting and spot-fixing scandal that rocked the domestic Twenty20 tournament.
The report, released in February, concluded that Srinivasan's son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan could be guilty of illegal betting on IPL games, in a major blow to Srinivasan who is due to take over as head of the International Cricket Council in July.
India is also the most powerful country in world cricket due to its vast television audience which enables the board to generate almost 70 percent of the game's revenues.
Meiyappan was the team principal of Chennai Super Kings, an IPL franchise owned by Srinivasan's India Cements company and captained by national skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
The report, by a panel headed by retired judge Mukul Mudgal, suggested that Meiyappan may have passed on team information to outsiders for illegal betting, but did not specify what information or to whom.
- 'Very serious allegations' -
"There are no definite findings by the Mudgal committee but the allegations are of a very serious nature," Patnaik told the court.
"Whether the BCCI will act on the findings of the probe panel is a big, big question," he added.
The judge asked the BCCI's lawyers to go away and read a sealed section of the report which has not been made public and return on Thursday when the case will continue.
There was no immediate reaction available from Srinivasan or the BCCI on Tuesday, although he was quoted as saying by the NDTV network that he would "study" the court order.
An ICC spokesman said the world governing body "has no comment to offer at this stage".
"It is an internal matter of the BCCI," the spokesman told AFP in the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka on the sidelines of the ongoing World Twenty20 tournament.
Srinivasan, who has not himself been accused of any wrongdoing, stepped aside temporarily as BCCI president in June last year when Meiyappan was first named in connection with the scandal.
But after effectively resuming day-to-day control of the board, he then won elections for a third term in September.
Meiyappan and others have also been the target of a separate police investigation which has resulted in charges of forgery, cheating, criminal conspiracy, breach of contract and handing critical team information to alleged bookmakers.
The IPL has been hit by several scandals in recent years, including allegations of spot-fixing during last year's tournament.
Test fast bowler Shanthakumaran Sreesanth was subsequently banned from cricket for life after being found guilty of deliberately bowling badly in return for thousands of dollars from bookmakers.
Ankeet Chavan, a teammate of Sreesanth's in the Rajasthan Royals team, was also handed a life ban following a probe by the BCCI's anti-corruption chief Ravi Sawani.
International news organisations, including Agence France-Presse (AFP), have suspended their on-field coverage of matches hosted by the BCCI since 2012 after the board imposed restrictions on picture agencies.