Srinivasan, managing director of India Cements, has worn many hats since he entered cricket administration 14 years ago. He has been president of the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association since 2001, served as honorary treasurer and secretary of the BCCI before being elected president in 2011. Under his steer, India won the ICC Under-19 World Cup in 2012 and the ICC Champions Trophy in 2013.
But that is just one side of the coin.
Srinivasan is also one of the most divisive figures in world cricket. Since assuming the office of BCCI president controversy has followed close behind. Australia’s Daily Telegraph once wrote that he “may be cricket’s most destructive figure”. His latest role, as chairman of the body that rules world cricket, is bound to ruffle more than a few feathers.
Srinivasan is viewed as a controversial figure abroad because of decisions he has made as a cricket administrator. Yet in years gone by he has hit the headlines for more than cricket.
Father and Son
In 2012, Srinivasan’s son Ashwin accused his father of homophobia and assault, saying that he used his political influence to have him and his partner beaten up by the police. Ashwin claimed that he and his partner had been subjected to “physical and mental torture” at Srinivasan’s behest for years. “My father is vehemently against homosexuality and has been asking me to change since 1998 when I came out to my parents,” Ashwin was quoted as saying by DNA. “Things began to worsen when I fell in love with Avi in 1999. We have come close to losing our lives and sanity due to the constant physical and mental torture.”
Citing one particular incident, Ashwin claimed that the police arrested the couple from a Mumbai pub in April 2012, and beat them with iron rods, allegedly on Srinivasan’s orders. Ashwin also accused Srinivasan of indulging in money laundering and not paying him his salary at India Cements, where he worked as a director. Srinivasan refused to comment on the accusations when questioned by the media, saying that it was a “private family matter”.
In 2012, Srinivasan managed to get himself muddled in YSR Congress chief Jaganmohan Reddy’s disproportionate assets case. Srinivasan, as managing director of India Cements, was summoned by the Central Bureau of Investigation for questioning regarding alleged investments worth several crores made in companies promoted by Reddy’s government, as part of a quid-pro-quo arrangement to get benefits in the form of enhanced water allocation for India Cements. This enabled India Cements to double its production.
Conflict of interest
In 2011, Srinivasan was taken to court by former BCCI president AC Muthiah, who filed a petition claiming that there was a conflict of interest concerning Srinivasan’s ownership of the Chennai Super Kings Indian Premier League franchise while being an office bearer of the board.
Until 2008, the BCCI had a clause in its regulation for players, team officials, umpires and administrators, which stated that “no administrator of BCCI could have had, directly or indirectly, any commercial interest in the matches or events conducted by the cricket board”. When the IPL was being set up, Srinivasan purchased the Chennai franchise via his successful family-owned company, India Cements – but the relevant clause was amended to exclude IPL, Champions League Twenty20 and other Twenty20 events from its purview. Muthiah claimed this change was made specifically to suit Srinivasan.
The case is still pending in the Supreme Court, after one split verdict.
Arguably the biggest blot on Srinivasan’s administerial career came last year, when the Chennai Super Kings found itself at the centre of the spot-fixing and betting controversy. Along with several players, the most high-profile casualty in the case was Gurunath Meiyappan, the alleged team principal of CSK. Meiyappan is Srinivasan’s son-in-law.
In February 2014, the Supreme-Court–appointed Justice Mukul Mudgal’s committee investigating the corruption case found Meiyappan guilty of betting and passing on match-related information to bookies during IPL 2013. After the committee submitted its findings, the Supreme Court recommended that Srinivasan step down from his post as BCCI president until the investigations are over.
The recommendation was not a direct order, but Justice AK Patnaik, who is part of the bench ruling on the case, did not mince words when he noted: “Mr Srinivasan should step down or else we’ll be forced to pass an order. How did he stay on despite all the allegations? His staying on is nauseating for cricket”.
Srinivasan did accede to the court’s recommendation, though he claimed he did so voluntarily and reiterating that he had done no wrong. When quizzed about the pending case at a press conference after being named ICC chairman he claimed as quoted by ESPNcricinfo, “Actually the court did not ask me, I stepped aside voluntarily. The Mudgal Committee made a report which did not involve me, but they had given a sealed envelope [to the court] in which they said there were some unsubstantiated, unverified allegations made by some people, which the court is looking into. I said I’ll voluntarily step aside during that period.”
“Now as far as I’m concerned I have done nothing wrong,” Srinivasan continued. “There is no wrongdoing on my part, and therefore my conscience is very clear, that there is no taint on me.”
When asked about his son-in-law’s involvement, Srinivasan distanced himself, saying, “There are some charges against him, he has to defend himself in court. It’s a question of whether it is going to be proved or not, but that’s up to him. This [ICC chairmanship] is a question about me. You have to wait until everything is clear. At the end of the day if nothing is proved, I think all this comment would have been unfair.”