No evidence against former IPL COO Sundar Raman: Lodha panel

Former IPL COO Sundar Raman was today exonerated by a Supreme Court-appointed Committee which held that none of the allegations against him in connection with the 2013 spot-fixing and betting scandal has been substantiated and that there was no cogent evidence to establish his role in any other wrongful activities.

The committee, headed by retired Supreme Court Chief Justice R M Lodha concluded there was no need for any action against him as none of the seven allegations have been susbstantiated.

The committee said on the basis of investigation and material before it, it does not seem that Raman’s omission in informing the IPL Governing Body about the betting activities in 2013 was with “any ulterior or oblique motive or intended to cover or protect someone or was part of any corrupt activity”.

“However, having regard to the duties and responsibilities of Sundar Raman as Chief Operating Officer (COO), his omission to report to the IPL Governing Council was a wrong decision and not expected of a COO of IPL. We have no material to infer that the said decision was motivated,” Justice Lodha said.

The report, which deals with various aspects relating to the functioning of Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), was also placed before the Supreme Court and the BCCI and would be considered by the bench headed by Chief Justice T S Thakur at a later stage.

After the report was made public, Raman chose not to comment on the panel’s recommendations except to say he appreciated the clean chit given to him.

“I have not yet read the report. So I would not want to comment on it. I have heard that I have been given a clean chit and I appreciate it but there is nothing more I want to add,” Raman, who resigned from his post in November, told PTI.

On the allegation that there were 350 telephone contacts between Raman and actor Vindoo Dara Singh, the report said evidence revealed by the investigating team showed calls/SMS between them was on 15 occasions only and there were no telephone calls between them during IPL 2013.

“There were no telephone calls between them during IPL 2013. There is no evidence on record to show that Sundar Raman had the knowledge of Vindoo Dara Singh being a bookie or indulging in betting.

“The statement of I S Bindra and the documents seized from the residents of N S Virk, ACSU-ICC also do not indicate any positive evidence to show that Sundar Raman had the knowledge that Vindoo Dara Singh was a bookie or involved in cricket betting.

“In the absence of any positive evidence to that effect, the allegations leveled against him fail,” the report of three-member committee also comprising justices R V Raveendran and Ashok Bhan said.
Regarding the allegation that Raman had contact and nexus with Bollywood actor Nupur Mehta, the committee said although they contacted each other by calls and messages on 11 occasions, the conversations “do indicate proximity between them but nothing beyond it”.

“There is no evidence on record to indicate that Sundar Raman had knowledge about the suspicious activities of Nupur Mehta at the relevant time.

“Although having regard to the position Raman was holding in the IPL, he ought to have shown better discretion in keeping in touch with an unknown person but having said that we find that there is nothing on record other than few calls of a very short duration to indicate that Raman had knowledge of the suspicious activities of Mehta at the relevant time.

“In the absence of any firm evidence, it cannot reasonably be inferred that exchanges between them was for betting or any other corrupt motive. On the basis of evidence collected during investigation it is difficult to conclude that Raman was also involved in the suspicious activities of Mehta,” it said.

Earlier, the Justice Mukul Mudgal-led panel, which was formed to investigate the IPL spot-fixing scandal, had named Raman as ‘Individual 12’ in its report, which said he “knew a contact of a bookie and had contacted him eight times in one season”.

In January last year, the Supreme Court in its verdict had said that the allegations levelled against Raman, cannot go “un-probed” and constituted a three-member committee headed by Justice Lodha to further investigate the averments against him, saying “truth must be brought to light”.

It had said if the committee finds him guilty it would also decide on the suitable punishment against him.

The apex court had said Raman was the spirit behind the entire exercise of IPL and cannot be said to be unconcerned with the matters relating to the tournament, especially if it has the potential of bringing disrepute to the game or BCCI.