Court also refuses to stay proceedings of disciplinary committee

The Bombay High Court on Wednesday dismissed for the second time the petition filed by the suspended IPL chairman, Lalit Modi, challenging the constitution of the Board of Control for Cricket in India's (BCCI) disciplinary committee to look into the charges of irregularities against him.

Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud also refused to stay Thursday's proceedings of the disciplinary committee.

In the petition, Mr. Modi argued that two members of the committee, Arun Jaitley and Chirayu Amin, were likely to be biased against him, so they should be replaced. However, the court held that Mr. Modi could raise the issue of bias at a later stage while challenging the final decision of the committee and the BCCI.

The suspended IPL chief had earlier filed a petition on the same grounds, but another Division Bench said in July that he could raise the issue before the committee itself. The committee rejected his argument on August 11.

Mr. Modi had argued in both the petitions that since Messrs Chirayu Amin and Arun Jaitley were part of the IPL Governing Council, which had held him prima facie guilty of some irregularities, they should not sit on the panel conducting the inquiry.

Furthermore, in Mr. Chirayu Amin's case, Mr. Modi's lawyer had said Mr. Modi had earlier “exposed” him by disclosing that he was interested in buying a stake in the IPL's Pune franchise.

But the court held on Wednesday that as per the BCCI regulations, Mr. Chirayu Amin did not commit any illegality, so there was no substance in Mr. Modi's apprehension. The bidder concerned had failed to win the franchise, so there was no conflict of interest.

“There has to be some material on record to prove the allegations of bias... [legal] test in such cases is real danger of bias and not an apprehension of bias,” the court said.

Pointing it out that the court need not intervene in the disciplinary panel's proceedings at this stage, the judges, however, said it was not expressing any “final opinion” on the controversy.

The court said that just because the BCCI general body, of which Mr. Chirayu Amin and Mr. Arun Jaitley were part, scrapped the 2009 agreements with the World Sports Group for IPL media rights, it could not “disqualify” them. The termination of the contract was not the issue before the disciplinary committee.

C. Aryama Sundaram, Senior Counsel, appeared for the BCCI. Ram Jethmalani, Senior Counsel, appeared for Mr. Modi.

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