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India court orders cricket boss to step aside

NEW DELHI -- India's Supreme Court ordered the country's boss Narayanaswami Srinivasan to step aside Friday until the completion of an investigation into corruption in the domestic Indian Premier League.

The court appointed test great Sunil Gavaskar as temporary president of the Board of Control of Cricket in India during the duration of the IPL Twenty20 competition, scheduled to begin on April 16. He will work with another former test cricketer, Shivlal Yadav, a senior vice president of the BCCI.

Srinivasan, one of the leading powerbrokers in international cricket, is yet to comment on Friday's decision. He earlier this week rejected the court's urging that he voluntarily step aside from the BCCI role.

Indian police last year arrested several players, including test paceman Shantakumaran Sreesanth, for allegedly spot fixing — or conceding a specified number of runs in exchange for money from bookmakers.

The court did not penalize any teams or players as part of the judgment.

“This judgment is for cricket lovers. We do not want to suspend any team or player before the IPL,” Justice Patnaik said.

C. Aryama Sundaram, the lawyer representing the BCCI, welcomed the court's order.

“We are very glad that the order that has been passed today is in keeping with the proposal which the BCCI itself had given” to the top court, Sundaram told reporters. “The BCCI will not oppose Sunil Gavaskar's interim appointment.”

Sundaram also welcomed the court's decision to allow the IPL to go ahead as scheduled, saying any order that led to its disruption would “heavily impact the success of the IPL and would affect millions of cricket-loving public.”

“I am very glad to say that the court has not, in any manner, interfered with the IPL. It has not passed any order which interferes with any team participating in the IPL,” Sundaram said.

The court will reconvene on April 16 to continue its investigation into the IPL.

Srinivasan's position on the BCCI has been considered untenable since a three-member committee, headed by Justice Mukul Mudgal, found Chennai Super Kings team principal Gurunath Meiyappan guilty of being in contact with illegal bookmakers in its report forwarded to the Supreme Court.

Meiyappan, Srinivasan's son-in-law was indicted last month on charges of betting and passing on information to illegal bookmakers. Meiyappan spent two weeks in jail last year before being granted bail.

Srinivasan said that Meiyappan was “just a cricket enthusiast” even though he was seen regularly at players' auctions and in the team dugout.

The finding came after the Bombay High Court last year referred to the two-member BCCI panel that initially cleared Meiyappan of his charges as “illegal and unconstitutional.”

Justice A. K. Patnaik said the court was not expressing any opinion on the merits of the allegations against Srinivasan until the court completes its case on the IPL spot-fixing and betting scandal.

Shivlal Yadav, a former India offspinner who played under Gavaskar's captaincy, told reporters he would abide by the court's order.

“The Supreme Court has given an order. I will fulfill it,” he said.

Srinivasan was named as chairman-elect of the International Cricket Council, the cricket's world governing body, in February. He is due to take up the role in July.

The court also ruled that Gavaskar will to decide whether to retain IPL Chief Operating Officer Sundar Raman or appoint someone in his place.

Gavaskar will have to discontinue his work as a cricket commentator to avoid any conflict of interest, the court said. However, it ordered that he be adequately compensated by the cricket board for any loss of earnings, it said.

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Former Indian cricketer Sunil Gavaskar poses during the launch of a food product in Mumbai on April 22, 2013. (AFP)

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