Former IPL Commissioner Lalit Modi has sought recusal of Arun Jaitley from the three-member Disciplinary Committee probing charges of irregularities against him in the conduct of the cash-rich Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket tournament.
Citing principle of natural justice, a defence team representing the former IPL head has accused that Jaitley being a complainant in the Kochi franchise dispute, objected to his being one of the Disciplinary Committee members.
It has also contended that not all the three members were present in-person during most of the disciplinary committee proceedings but via video link or any other medium.
“Jaitley being a complainant in Kochi franchise dispute cannot be a judge. It has been proved by the minutes of meeting of BCCI’s governing council dated June 25, 2010,” said Mehmood M. Abdi, General Counsel and Attorney of Modi.
According to the minutes of the meeting, Jaitley had called the then BCCI head Shashank Manohar to convey apprehension raised by one of the bankers claimed to be associated with Kochi franchise, namely Rendezvous Sports, over undue delay by Modi (who was IPL Commissioner then) in execution of agreements in relation to the franchise even though it was a successful bidder.
Abdi has alleged Jaitley to be involved in issuance of show cause notices by the BCCI against Modi in connection with the irregularities and had raised the issue with the disciplinary panel comprising Jyotiraditya Scindia and Chirayu Amin last year.
The matter was deliberated upon and Jaitley in his statement denied his involvement before the panel.
“I have absolutely no connection or interest, direct or indirect, with Kochi franchise. Neither have I contributed in any manner in the issuance of the show cause notices to Modi,” Jaitley had said.
The demands for Jaitley’s recusal have been rejected by the BCCI disciplinary panel.
“This is the thumb rule of the principle of natural justice that a complainant cannot be a judge in his own case. Hence, whereas Jaitley is complainant in the matter, he ought not to have been on the disciplinary panel. More importantly he should have disclosed his interest in the matter,” Abdi said.
The panel, formed in July 2010, is likely to finalise its findings by this week.
Modi’s legal team has also sought cross examination of BCCI witnesses, a demand being constantly rejected by the committee. Recently, Modi filed a written statement running into 229 pages and offered himself to be available for cross examination via video link from the second week of May onwards. He has also asked for recall of certain witnesses and also production of Jaitley, Amin, Manohar and BCCI chief N. Srinivasan.
“Instead of dealing with our legal demands fairly, the committee has been issuing character certificates to itself,” Abdi said.