New Delhi: Rattled by the sensational spot-fixing scandal, the BCCI has called an Emergency Working Committee meeting on Sunday to discuss the issue amid indications that arrested Indian speedster S Sreesanth and his two Rajasthan Royals team-mates would be handed life bans if found guilty.
A day after the arrest of Sreesanth and his two team-mates Ankeet Chavan and Ajit Chandila on charges of spot-fixing, the BCCI promised "strongest possible action" against those found guilty in the scandal that has thrown the high-profile league into one of the biggest crisis till date.
"The Working Committee will discuss, among other things, the fallout of the spot-fixing controversy in the ongoing IPL, in which three players have been arrested by the Delhi Police," the BCCI said in a statement.
A special cell of the Delhi police arrested the three Rajasthan Royals players in Mumbai early on Thursday for indulging in spot-fixing in at least three IPL matches as per arrangements with bookies who have underworld connections abroad. All the three players have denied any wrongdoing through their lawyers.
The players, who have been suspended by the BCCI, have been brought to Delhi and charged under section 420 (cheating) and 120-B (criminal conspiracy) of the IPC.
The BCCI has also asked its Anti-Corruption Unit chief Ravi Sawani to investigate the scandal and submit a report in 30 days.
A top BCCI source indicated that the trio could be handed life bans if found guilty for spot-fixing to send out a strong message that corruption would not be tolerated.
The Board has also suspended first-class cricketer Amit Singh, who is allegedly a bookmaker now and was arrested along with 10 other bookies on Thursday.
"Mr Amit Singh, a registered player with the Gujarat Cricket Association, who has also been arrested by the Delhi Police, has been suspended by the BCCI, pending inquiry," the BCCI statement read.
The arrested players are also likely to be booked under the stringent MCOCA, Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act, which could land them in jail without bail and their confessions before a DCP level officer will be admissible in court.
They were sent to police custody for five days by a court here for being quizzed in connection with the case.
BCCI President N Srinivasan said that the Board was doing its bit to curb the menace of corruption in the game but it has its own limitations and one should not question the credibility of the IPL due to the scandal.
"Nobody can deny what happened. We wont sit and allow this to happen. What is impact of it.. let's see what happens.
Allegations have to be proved, players too have rights. IPL is still credible, there are allegations and we will get to the bottom of it," Srinivasan said.
"This is a clear indication of risk. They are Ranji and Test players. It is not as if they did not know what's wrong and still went ahead. It looks greed has taken over. It seems three players have fallen pray," the BCCI chief said.
Srinivasan outlined what their endeavours are in curbing corruption and also accepted their limitations in doing the job.
"We do not have resources of a state, of a government, of police or an agency. We function on certain limitations. We engage the services of the ICC's Anti-Corruption Unit. We have a Working Committee meeting and we will look into all aspects.
We will hear from our own Anti-Corruption Unit on that day. We will wait to get all the information," he said.
Srinivasan also said that they would not spare the guilty.
"We will follow procedure. He (Sreesanth) has to face a disciplinary enquiry. At the end of it, whatever is the conclusion, based on that, necessary punishment will be meted out, if he is found guilty, certainly 100%."
IPL Chairman Rajeev Shukla also warned of "strongest possible action" against those players found guilty of spot-fixing.
"We will be taking some important decisions. The strongest possible action will be taken against the guilty. Whoever is found to be involved in spot-fixing, will not be spared," he said.
Shukla said the IPL Governing Council will try its best to keep the tournament clean and ensure that it's image does not take a further beating.
Sreesanth's lawyer, however, insisted that his client is "totally innocent" and that he will seek bail during the next hearing.
"I asked them what is the evidence you have against him, they failed to give any kind of paper against Sreesanth in the court," Sreesanth's lawyer Deepak Prakash said.
"Please support Sreesanth, the person is innocent, we are doing a crime right now giving the wrong news about him. I clarified from him, he is never involved in this, he is totally innocent," he said.
"He never talked to any bookie. No money is received, no telephone call, nothing is established, he is innocent." Similarly, Chandila's lawyer also claimed that his client was innocent while Chavan's brothers threw that weight behind him, saying that he could not have done such a thing.