July 14, 2015

NEW DELHI (AP) Indian Premier League teams Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals were suspended for two years and two officials banned for life by a Supreme Court-appointed committee on Tuesday following a corruption scandal.

The committee of three judges, headed by former chief justice Rajendra Lodha, made the sanctions binding on the Board of Control for Cricket in India, though they can be appealed in court.

The committee noted Chennai team principal Gurunath Meiyappan and Rajasthan co-owner Raj Kundra bet on IPL games or were in contact with illegal gamblers, ''bringing the game, BCCI, and IPL into disrepute.'' It also said the teams had to be responsible for their officials.

Meiyappan is the son-in-law of International Cricket Council chairman Narainaswamy Srinivasan, who was earlier restricted by the court from running for another term as president of the BCCI owing to a conflict of interest. His company, India Cements, held a stake in the Chennai franchise.

Justice Lodha predicted the decisions of his committee would stand.

''The Supreme Court order says it is subject to any remedy in appropriate judicial proceedings, so a challenge is available in court. But since this is a committee comprising three senior judges of the Supreme Court, it is highly unlikely a court will interfere,'' Justice Lodha said.

The committee said Meiyappan regularly bet on IPL matches.

''The fact that Gurunath was an integral part of CSK, and most people saw him as the face of the team, he ought not to have indulged in betting practices,'' the committee said.

On Kundra, who is married to Indian film actress Shilpa Shetty, the committee said: ''That the allegation of match-fixing against Kundra was not finally established does not matter because his status as owner has brought disrepute.''

According to IPL rules, a team can be suspended if its officials bring the tournament into disrepute.

''The argument that these acts were personal and the franchise cannot be responsible cannot be accepted,'' Justice Lodha said.

The Supreme Court committee was formed in January to decide on the scope of punishment following an inquiry by a separate committee that found the clubs and both officials guilty.

Meiyappan, who was detained for two weeks by Mumbai Police in 2013 over allegations of spot-fixing, was cleared by a BCCI-appointed panelk, but a petition from the Cricket Association of Bihar led to the Bombay High Court declaring that panel ''illegal and unconstitutional.''

The Cricket Association of Bihar then took the issue to the Supreme Court, which ordered an investigation into the conduct of Srinivasan and 12 others.

CAB official Aditya Verma welcomed the order but wanted the BCCI to do more on its own.

''The BCCI should file criminal cases against those found guilty,'' he said in New Delhi. ''That is the only way it can show cricket lovers that they are serious about cleaning the game.''

The BCCI, which will also be suggested reforms by the Lodha committee in the coming weeks as per the Supreme Court's mandate, said it was yet to study the report.

''BCCI is committed to honor and respect judicial decisions and it would give its observations after the entire report is read and a collective decision is taken,'' its president Jagmohan Dalmiya said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Kundra said he was wrongly indicted.

''Despite no evidence against me, I have been declared guilty,'' Kundra told the NDTV news channel.

The spot-fixing controversy erupted during the 2013 IPL when Rajasthan players, including former test bowler Shantakumaran Sreesanth, Ajit Chandila, and Ankeet Chavan, were arrested for allegedly conceding a pre-determined number of runs per over and receiving money in return from illegal bookmakers.

It was not immediately clear whether the contracted CSK or Rajasthan players will get to represent other teams.

Chennai, a two-time champion and the runner-up this year, is led by India limited-overs captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni and features New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum, West Indies allrounder Dwayne Bravo, and South Africa batsman Faf du Plessis.

Rajasthan, the inaugural IPL champ in 2008, is led by Australia's Steve Smith, and includes India batsman Ajinkya Rahane, and New Zealand pace bowler Tim Southee.

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