NEW DELHI - India's Supreme Court on Monday delayed N. Srinivasan's return as the country's cricket chief, saying there was "something seriously wrong" with the body that controls the sport in the cricket-crazy nation. The 68-year-old cement tycoon, widely regarded as the most powerful man in world cricket, had been elected unopposed as the head of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) for a third year on Sunday.
But the court barred Srinivasan from taking charge until it had ruled on a petition against him over a spot-fixing scandal in the Indian Premier League (IPL), a popular Twenty20 tournament run by the board. "The fact that so many things are coming out of the IPL and BCCI, something is seriously wrong with the apex body controlling cricket," the court said during Monday's hearing. "Why has the BCCI lost its credibility? The only thing to be seen is how Srinivasan being the president will affect the IPL probe."
The court also fixed October 7 as the next date of the hearing. A cricket body in the eastern state of Bihar which is not affiliated to the BCCI had asked the court to prevent Srinivasan's return on moral grounds because his son-in-law had been charged in the scandal. The son-in-law, Gurunath Meiyappan, is among several officials, players and bookmakers charged with cheating and criminal conspiracy, although the BCCI chief himself has not been accused of any wrongdoing.
Srinivasan temporarily stepped aside as president in June when Meiyaappan was named in the scandal, and handed interim control to Jagmohan Dalmiya, a former head of the International Cricket Council. Srinivasan has publicly distanced himself from his son-in-law, who was the team principal of the Chennai Super Kings, the IPL franchise owned by India Cements and captained by national skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
The Bihar association had argued in court that an internal BCCI probe panel had absolved Srinivasan, Meiyappan, India Cements and other IPL officials of wrongdoing even before police had filed charges in court.
The BCCI has not said who will head it until the Supreme Court delivers its verdict, or whether fresh elections will be held if Srinivasan is subsequently barred from holding office. Srinivasan's hold on world cricket stems from India's vast television audience, which enables the country to generate almost 70 percent of the game's revenues.
International news organisations, including Agence France-Presse, have suspended their on-field coverage of matches hosted by the BCCI since last year after the board imposed restrictions on picture agencies.