NEW DELHI, May 29: India’s sports ministry said the country’s cricket chief should resign to avoid a conflict of interest, four days after police arrested his son-in-law in connection with an illegal betting scandal in a cricket league.

Pressure has mounted on N. Srinivasan, one of the world’s most influential cricket administrators, to quit his position on ‘moral grounds,’ with two of the key members of India’s cricket board having also demanded he stand down earlier on Wednesday.

“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,” the sports ministry said in a statement.

The ministry does not govern the BCCI but its comments add an official voice to media demands that Srinivasan should step down.

The BCCI has asked retired judges Jayaram Chouta and R. Balasubramanian and BCCI secretary-general Sanjay Jagdale to investigate the roles of Meiyappan and the Chennai and Rajasthan teams.

“We’re of the view that the recommendations of this committee should be binding and that the BCCI should not ponder over it,” IPL chairman and BCCI vice-president Rajeev Shukla said in what is seen as a sign of pressure from within the board. “Till the pendency of inquiry, he [Srinivasan] should disassociate himself from the procedure but the decision rests with him.”

Former ICC and BCCI chief Sharad Pawar said the issue had affected the board’s image.

“It is better if Srinivasan leaves till the probe is over as the BCCI’s image has already been dented by the IPL scandal,” Pawar said. “All matches of this year’s IPL must be probed and the entire fixing matter should be sent to the home ministry.”

Former BCCI chiefs Shashank Manohar, Inderjit Singh Bindra and A.C. Muthiah have already criticised the way the scandal has been handled but BCCI member Jyotiradiya Scindia, who heads the board’s finance committee, was the first from among present BCCI members to ask for Srinivasan to step aside.

“In the interest of propriety and in the interest of the game, when there is a question mark surrounding the team [Chennai] and its manager, who happens to be a family member, I believe Mr Srinivasan must step aside,” Scindia said on Tuesday.

The Indian Premier League (IPL), the sport’s richest tournament, was embroiled in controversy earlier this month when police arrested three cricketers on suspicion of taking money to concede a fixed number of runs and police have intensified investigations to discover the extent of the scandal.

Police arrested Gurunath Meiyappan, Srinivasan’s son-in-law and a management member of the Chennai Super Kings IPL franchise, on Saturday for his alleged involvement in the illegal betting scandal.

Chennai Super Kings is owned by India Cements, a company headed by Srinivasan. —Agencies

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