When the IPL debuted with its first season in 2008, cricket-lovers across the country had much to rejoice over. Finally, the nation had its own brand of the game, which was not only swanky enough to put its football counterpart, the EPL, to shame, but also brought together two of our biggest obsessions—cricket and Bollywood
Fast forward to seven years later, however, and the picture is a dismal and heavily tainted one. Needless to say, the tournament has been mired in controversy since its inception, but has managed to pull through and earn back the trust of its fans at most junctures, save for the spot-fixing scam that hit the game in May two years ago and has threatened the very existence of the tournament.
How it all started
On 16 May, 2013, the Delhi Police booked three players of Rajasthan Royals
(RR)—S Sreesanth, Ankeet Chavan and Ajit Chandila—along with former RR player and bookie Amit Singh and 10 others on charges of spot-fixing during the IPL in 2013. The arrests kicked off a nationwide movement to bring to book those involved in betting and fixing of matches. Among other names to crop up during the investigation was actor Vindoo Dara Singh, arrested on charges of having links with bookies, which in turn led to the first of the many high-profile arrests from within the managing committee—that of Gurunath Meiyappan, a top official of Chennai Super Kings and son-in-law of BCCI president N Srinivasan.
Further investigation found the three players, Meiyappan and Singh guilty. While Rajasthan Royals terminated their contract with the players and the BCCI imposed lifelong bans on Chavan and Sreesanth (Chandila was banned for five years), the other two were taken into custody.
Brought under the scanner for his brother-in-law’s wrongdoings, pressure mounted on Srinivasan to step down from his post of BCCI’s president. Srinivasan, however, distanced himself from the allegations against his brother-in-law. He ultimately agreed to step down, asking to be reinstated if he was found to be innocent. Other people to step down included IPL Chairman Rajiv Shukla and BCCI officials Sanjay Jagdale and Ajay Shirke.
More arrests—the drama intensifies
During questioning to obtain more information about the three arrested RR players, team co-owner Raj Kundra confessed to betting on IPL matches, including those featuring his team. His confession and subsequent suspension resulted in a major blow to the reputation of the IPL
and eventually led the BCCI to launch its ‘clean-up drive’ in order to save what was left of the game.
In an unexpected turn of events, however, the BCCI-led probe panel found no incriminating evidence against Kundra and Meiyappan, clearing them of all charges. Calling the panel “illegal and unconstitutional”, the Supreme Court of India issued notices to Srinivasan, his company, India Cements (which owns Chennai Super Kings) and Rajasthan Royals. It further ordered a fresh probe led by former Punjab and Haryana Chief Justice, Mukul Mudgal, which found Meiyappan guilty of betting and passing on team information during the IPL-6.
The final verdict
The final findings of the report resulted in the following verdicts passed between 22 January and 25 July 2015:
✔ Srinivasan was found not guilty of either betting or fixing, but was still barred from contesting in the BCCI presidential election on grounds of conflict of interest.
✔ Kundra and Meiyappan are found guilty; the SC imposes lifelong bans on the two team owners.
✔ Their teams, Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals, are banned from the IPL for two years.
✔ As of 25 July, charges against Sreesanth, Chavan and Chandila are dropped citing insufficient evidence.
While the Supreme Court’s decision to impose bans on Kundra, Meiyappan, Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals has been regarded as landmark, the acquittal of the three RR players, in spite of Sreesanth pleading guilty on at least two occasions, has brought to light the lack of a proper, robust legal system to tackle such cases, the frequency of which has only increased over the years.
Another pressing issue is that of the future of the IPL. Fortunately, following the recent SC orders, no ban has been imposed on the tournament, but only time will tell if the game we so love and adore will be able to stand the onslaughts of power games and corruption.
Written By : Neehar Mishra