Qaiser Mohammad Ali
Controversial IPL chief operating office Sundar Raman, who was probed by a Supreme Court-appointed committee for his role in 2013 IPL betting-fixing scandal, has resigned, after being “asked to” do so by the BCCI president Shashank Manohar.
Raman, who was involved in the IPL since its first edition in 2008 and his tenure lasted around seven years, submitted his resignation to Manohar in his home city Nagpur on Monday, IPL governing council chairman Rajeev Shukla told jantakareporter.com on Tuesday.
A BCCI source said that three persons have already been shortlisted to replace Raman and one of them could be picked as early as Monday’s annual general meeting in Mumbai.
“Yes, Raman has resigned and he gave his resignation to Mr Manohar in Nagpur yesterday,” Shukla told jantakareporter.com
“We will discuss the issue at Monday’s BCCI AGM, though it is not on the agenda,” he said.
Later, in the afternoon, the Board issued a statement, saying, “The BCCI on Tuesday accepted Mr. Sundar Raman’s resignation from the post of Chief Operating Officer of the Indian Premier League (IPL).”
Raman, who was very close to former BCCI president N. Srinivasan, was hired by former IPL chairman Lalit Modi. After Modi was sacked by Manohar-Srinivasan in April 2010, for being allegedly involved in financial irregularities, Raman is said to have become close to Srinivasan. He enjoyed Srinivasan’s trust and, many people say, that was the reason he weathered all the storms over the years, despite being abrasive.
Two independent BCCI sources confirmed that Manohar, who took over the BCCI reins on October 4 after the death of Jagmohan Dalmiya, had told Raman that he had to go as part of his cleansing drive.
“A day before taking over, Manohar had met Justice Lodha in Delhi and got an inkling what all the former Chief Justice of India wants him to do as Board president,” the source told jantakareporter, referring to the Supreme Court-appointed Lodha Committee.
“The next day Manohar, after taking the charge at the SGM, he announced a series of steps that he intended to take. Although he did not publicly announce that he would ask Raman to go, he privately told him that his position was untenable in the BCCI,” he said.
“Raman then sought some time so that he could look for another assignment, but he was not given that. He was told that he should resign before the BCCI AGM. Had he not resigned, he could well have been sacked at the AGM. His resignation was expected; there is nothing surprising in it. He had no option but to resign.”
Several BCCI officials feel Raman’s decision has pre-emptive the Lodha Committee report, which will be on reforms in the BCCI and which is to submit to the Supreme Court next month.
But BCCI officials feel that a charge sheet, if required, could still be filed against Raman, if the Lodha Committee so recommends in its report.
“If Lodha Committee recommends punishment, it won’t make any difference because he has now resigned. Like in an office if someone comes to know that he would be sacked and he reigns, what happens? Nothing. Isn’t it?” he said. “After all, he [Raman] hasn’t murdered anyone. But, suppose, if the Lodha Committee tells the Board to file a charge sheet against him and take action, then the Board would have to do it.”
Another source said, “Suppose the Lodha Committee recommends his suspension from BCCI or IPL and assuming that would indeed be the case, Raman has now pre-empted that by resigning. He cannot be given a jail term as he is not a public servant.”
The source also disclosed that the search for Raman’s replacement had begun soon after Manohar had taken the charge.
“Three people have been shortlisted and one of them will be hired, perhaps at Monday’s AGM itself. The process of shortlisting had started after Manohar took over the reins,” he informed.
The charge against Raman vis-à-vis IPL betting-fixing was that he failed to inform the BCCI about some contentious calls he had received during the 2013 IPL.
In its first report, submitted in February last year, the Supreme Court-appointed Mudgal Committee had said, “The Committee in relation to IPL franchisees in general and Mr. [Gurunath] Meiyappan in particular questioned Mr. Sundar Raman as to who an owner of a team is, to which he replied that the ownership structures of teams are in general ambiguous. Mr. Raman further stated that the term ‘owner’ for the purpose of accreditation is loosely used and has no implication, while identifying an owner under the franchise agreement. He further stated that the status of an ultimate owner is not clear, but may be read as per the Franchise Agreement. Mr. Raman also admitted that the IPL Governing Council had not made any effort to determine who the ultimate owners of the franchisees were.”
In his second report, Mudgal wrote of Raman, “He knew a contact of a bookie and had contacted him eight times in one season. He admitted knowing the contact of the bookies but however claimed to be unaware of his connection with betting activities. He also accepted that he had received information about Meiyappan and [Rajasthan Royals co-owner Raj] Kundra taking part in betting activities but was informed by ICC-ACSU chief that this was not actionable information.”
While appointing the Lodha Committee, the Supreme Court had in its order said, “The three-member Committee constituted in terms of Para (II) above, shall also examine the role of Mr. Sundar Raman with or without further investigation, into his activities, and if found guilty, impose a suitable punishment upon him on behalf of BCCI.”
The Lodha Committee report is expected next month.