Court refuses to grant relief to Lalit Modi

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Lalit Modi
Lalit Modi

The Bombay High Court on Monday refused to grant the suspended IPL Chairman Lalit Modi any relief ahead of the BCCI Disciplinary Committee meeting and left the issue of reconstituting the panel to its members.

A Division Bench of Justices B.H. Marlapalle and Roshan Dalvi dismissed Mr. Modi's plea seeking reconstitution of the three-member disciplinary panel and cleared the decks for the disciplinary proceedings against him.

The committee, comprising interim IPL chairman Chirayu Amin, Arun Jaitley and Jyotiraditya Scindia, has summoned Mr. Modi to appear before it here on Friday.

However, the court indicated that Mr. Modi could challenge the final finding and even raise the issue of constitution of the committee at that point.

Aryama Sundaram, Senior Counsel, appeared for the BCCI. Mr. Modi's objection was that the committee would be biased against him. He had sought that the panel be made up of independent persons, preferably retired Supreme Court judges.

But the Division Bench said that as per the BCCI rules, “The Disciplinary Committee has limited powers ... it is required only to inquire into charges and submit the final report to the board. The board is the final decision-making body.”

Mr. Modi's lawyer Virag Tulzhapurkar said Mr. Amin had a “personal bias” against Mr. Modi, whereas Mr. Jaitley was on the IPL Governing Council which “ratified” the formation of the committee. “So the decision of the committee is a foregone conclusion.”

But the court said it was leaving the decision to these two persons whether they should withdraw from the panel on “moral grounds,” and “it would not be proper for the court to interfere” now.

In his petition, Mr. Modi had sought suspension of the whole disciplinary proceedings. But in view of his July 6 letter to the BCCI seeking reformation of the panel, the court said it would not consider other issues raised by him.

The Bench made it clear that it was “not going into the legality of the constitution of the committee,” but did not want to exercise its jurisdiction at this stage.

Mr. Sundaram had contended that the Disciplinary Committee was set up as per BCCI rules, and Mr. Modi, being a member of the board, was aware of the rules. The High Court could not deal with “internal matters” of the board, he said.

The BCCI had slapped three show-cause notices, accusing Mr. Modi of financial irregularities and bid-rigging in the conduct of the IPL, and charging him with trying to undermine the world and Indian cricket structure and with wrongdoings in granting theatrical rights for the IPL.

Mr. Modi denied all the charges and in a counterpunch, accused BCCI secretary N. Srinivasan of holding a personal grudge against him. He wanted Mr. Srinivasan as well as president Shashank Manohar to desist from playing a part in subsequent disciplinary proceedings.

Mr. Manohar recused himself from the three-man panel and was replaced by Mr. Scindia, who was nominated to the committee at the Board's Special General Meeting earlier this month. The meeting also ratified Mr. Srinivasan's action referring the charges against Mr. Modi and his replies to the Disciplinary Committee. — PTI

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