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A file photo of Gurunath Meiyappan and Raj Kundra. Photo: PTI
A file photo of Gurunath Meiyappan and Raj Kundra. Photo: PTI

IPL verdict: What are the options for various affected parties

Gurunath Meiyappan of CSK and Raj Kundra of RR were suspended for life from cricket-related activities

In its verdict on the Indian Premier League (IPL) betting and spot-fixing case, the Supreme Court-appointed Lodha Committee on Tuesday suspended two Indian Premier League (IPL) franchises—the Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and the Rajasthan Royals (RR)—for their involvement in the scandal. Gurunath Meiyappan of CSK and Raj Kundra of RR were suspended for life from cricket-related activities.

In a telephonic interview with Mint, Bangalore-based sports law expert Amrut Joshi comments on the legal options available for the affected parties in the case. Edited excerpts:

What are the legal options for the franchises?

On reading the Lodha Committee Report, it appears that the franchises have been barred from operating their teams for a period of two years. A suspension is effectively a debarment from exercising a right conferred on the franchises under the Franchise Agreement. It means that the team can’t play in the League, and the franchisee is not allowed to bring in sponsorships or anything to do with the franchise. The Lodha Committee Report has outlined specific reasons for the sanctions and has left very little wriggle room for CSK and RR.

What happens now, can someone else step into their shoes?

Can CSK and RR play if another corporate house were to become their owners? The answer in all probability is no. The sanction has been imposed on the franchises, India Cements Ltd and Jaipur IPL Ltd, who would have signed a Franchise Agreement with the BCCI. Even if the BCCI were to permit a change in ownership of the suspended franchises, the subsequent owners would assume the rights and liabilities of the transferring owner, which would mean that the suspension would apply to such owners too.

What happens if the franchises appeal against the verdict?

India Cements has indicated that they will go to the Supreme Court seeking a review. It is unlikely that the Supreme Court would grant them relief, considering that the Lodha Committee Report is detailed and well-reasoned. The committee has stayed within the parameters of the applicable BCCI Operational Rules and Anti-Corruption Code provisions while laying down the sanctions.

What are the options available for Meiyappan and Kundra?

They already have criminal proceedings pending against them. This is just one in a number of proceedings that are pending against them. It will be an uphill task for them to obtain any relief from different courts of law.

What are the options available for the BCCI?

Potentially, one option for the BCCI, which has minimal legal hassles associated, would be to float two new tenders for entirely different cities (not Chennai or Jaipur) to make sure that an eight-team league takes place for the next two seasons. There could be another legal imbroglio if they auction Chennai or Jaipur, since the franchises are only suspended and not terminated. Of far more significant import for the BCCI will be the governance and reform recommendations that the Lodha Committee is yet to submit.

What happens to the players who are contracted to these franchises?

The players find themselves in a peculiar situation. The franchise is only suspended, not terminated, which means that the owners still have the rights to the team and the players (as long as the players are locked by multi-year contracts). Justice Lodha has indicated that the players won’t be affected. From the players’ point of view, it remains moot as to whether they would want to be associated with a franchise that would not be permitted to field a team for the next two seasons.

If the players have signed a contract extending beyond a year, they would still be bound contractually to their franchises. Say, a CSK player was bought this year (2015) and has a three-year contract (or till 2017), he still has two seasons left. CSK can continue to retain his services by paying him the amount agreed upon in the contract. Unless CSK releases the player into the auction and/or the BCCI issues a directive to CSK to release the players, a player’s participation in the auction could amount to a breach of his contract with CSK.

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