Indian sports minister under pressure

As corruption plagues Indian cricket, chief of the cricket board is asked to hand in resignation on 'moral grounds'.

    Indian sports minister under pressure
    The man under fire: N. Srinivasan's son-in-law has been suspended pending inquiry into spot-fixing scandal [AFP]

    India's sports ministry on Wednesday piled pressure on the chief of the country's cricket board to quit on "moral grounds" over a widening betting and spot-fixing scandal that has rocked the sport.

    N. Srinivasan, head of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), has been under fire after his son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan was arrested for allegedly betting on Indian Premier League (IPL) matches.

    The BCCI on Tuesday set up a three-member inquiry commission to look into complaints against Meiyappan, an executive at the Chennai Super Kings IPL team which is owned by Srinivasan's group India Cements.

    "The ministry of youth affairs and sports has observed with considerable disquiet, the reports about match- and spot-fixing in cricket," said a statement from the sports ministry headed by Jitendra Singh.

    "As there is a conflict of interest in this inquiry, therefore BCCI President should tender his resignation on moral grounds, pending the outcome of the inquiry," it said.

    Earlier Wednesday IPL chairman Rajeev Shukla said 'it would be good' if  Srinivasan - who is managing director of India Cements - stayed away from the inquiry into the spot-fixing allegations.

    Srinivasan, a 68-year-old businessman from the south of India, said he would not interfere with the probe committee, comprising two former high court judges and BCCI secretary Sanjay Jagdale.

    "I have already made it very clear that I will have nothing to do with the investigating commission. The probe commission is independent. It has the power to impose sanctions and hand out punishment," he told reporters in Mumbai.

    Srinivasan, who was elected as the BCCI president in 2011, has been resisting political pressure for him to step down and can only be sacked if two thirds of the board's members vote against him.

    IPL scandal

    Also on Wednesday, a court in Mumbai extended the police custody of Meiyappan until Friday to enable investigators to interrogate him further.

    Betting on sports other than horse-racing is a crime in India.

    Meiyappan's arrest followed similar action against World Cup-winning pace bowler Shanthakumaran Sreesanth and two teammates in his IPL franchise the Rajasthan Royals - Ankeet Chavan and Ajit Chandila.

    The trio, who deny any wrongdoing, have been sent to judicial custody in New Delhi after police accused them of deliberately bowling badly in exchange for tens of thousands of dollars after striking deals with bookmakers.

    The police have widened their probe into the scandal, arresting scores of bookies and Bollywood actor Vindu Dara Singh Randhawa.

    Police suspect that the betting racket is being controlled by international crime syndicates whose bosses are well aware of the rewards if they can manipulate events on the field throughout the cricket-mad region.

    Spot-fixing is when an element during a game, such as the number of runs scored in a particular over, is fixed. Match-fixing is when the result of the game is fixed.



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