The Supreme Court on Monday rejected a plea of the former Indian Premier League Commissioner, Lalit Modi, seeking the re-constitution of the disciplinary committee set up by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to probe charges against him.
A Bench of Justices J.M. Panchal and H.L. Gokhale upheld the judgments of the Bombay High Court dismissing his petition.
The charges include accepting multi-million dollar kickback while assigning the telecasting rights for IPL matches; attempting to rig the bids for the two new IPL teams that were auctioned; having proxy stakes in the IPL teams; entering into transactions with rank strangers against the mandate of the Governing Council of the IPL; and helping family members in benefiting from the IPL contracts.
Mr. Modi had alleged that the BCCI launched prosecution against him on the basis of media reports and on complaints from rank outsiders and meddlesome interlopers, who were neither members of the Board nor an administrator.
He had challenged his suspension and the reference of what he said were completely motivated and baseless allegations to a Disciplinary Committee comprising Chirayu Amin, Arun Jaitley and Jyotir Aditya Scindia, who had a personal bias/animus against him.
Writing the judgment, Justice Gokhale said: “Merely because all the members of a society [BCCI] have participated in the discussion concerning such allegation, the Society can't be expected to appoint an outsider to hold the disciplinary proceeding. If the members or the managing committee of a Society receive a complaint of any misconduct on the part of any of its office bearers, surely the subject is expected to be taken up in the General Body Meeting of the Society. These societies are expected to sort out the future course of action with respect to such allegations on their own on the basis of their internal disciplinary mechanism.”
On the apprehension of bias expressed by Mr. Modi against the disciplinary committee members, the Bench said, “a mere apprehension of bias cannot be a ground for interference. There must exist a real danger of bias.”
The Bench pointed out that the petitioner had stated that he was not making any personal allegations against two members of the Disciplinary Committee, viz. Mr. Jaitley and Mr. Scindia. Even the grievance against Mr. Amin could not be said to be well founded.
The petitioner was alleging institutional bias against the Committee members, which was only on the basis of their participation in the meetings of the first respondent society [BCCI].
Rejecting this contention, the Bench said: “In this way, institutional bias can be alleged against every member of the IPL Governing Council and the BCCI General Body, which cannot be accepted. We cannot presume that the three-member committee will not afford the petitioner a fair hearing, or that it will not render unbiased findings. Taking a view as canvassed by the petitioner will lead to a demand for interference in the enquiries conducted by all other societies in such situations, and that cannot be approved in view of the law already laid down by this Court.”
Holding that there was no error in the order of the Disciplinary Committee, or the decision of the Annual General Meeting of the first respondent to extend the term of this committee or the inquiry against the petitioner, the Bench dismissed the appeal.