In a dramatic midnight coup, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) Sunday suspended its vice-president and Indian Premier League (IPL) chairman and commissioner Lalit Modi for alleged financial impropriety.
As planned, the Board waited for the IPL final to be over and within minutes of the prize distribution ceremony at the DY Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai, it announced Modi's suspension and a show cause notice to him.
Chairman of BCCI's media and finance committees Rajiv Shukla had said earlier in the day that if Modi did not put in his papers by Sunday night, he would be sacked.
Modi made an emotional speech from the presentation ceremony dais after the IPL final, saying that IPL is "clean and transparent."
"I am speaking as IPL commissioner and the captain of the team. IPL has been unfortunately surrounded with off-field dramas. The recent happenings are only based on innuendoes, half truths and motivated leaks from all sides. I assure you all decisions are jointly taken by the GC (governing council) and were approved by the general body in the first and the second year of IPL," he said.
"I reassure you that if there is any flouting of rules and any irregularities, I take on the full responsibility," he added.
"I would like to assure you fans across the globe that the IPL is clean and transparent and I thank millions of fans for making it one of the best sporting leagues ever."
"We should not allow this brand to be diluted and with the support of the millions and millions of viewers across the globe. We have seen some talents emerging and should not allow its image to be diminished."
"IPL has faced many challenges this year, but we have faced this challenges head on."
"I just wanted to leave a small footprint in the glorious history of the games. I would like to call it a Indian People's League."
The Board took the easy way out. Instead of waiting for Modi to come to the GC meeting Monday at the cricket headquarters at Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium, it decided to act swiftly to keep Modi off the meeting.
An official said on the condition of anonymity that the Board was under pressure from higher-ups to get rid of Modi come what may and there was little it could do.
Modi this afternoon issued a notice to all GC members that he would preside over the meeting and members could give it in writing their allegations against him as well as any other member.
The board official argued that the president has the power to suspend Modi using the Board’s constitutional provisions.
He cited a clause in the statute which says: "The president shall exercise superintendence over the office-bearers in the discharge of their duties generally and particularly in accordance with the general or special direction of the Board or the Working Committee. The president shall also exercise such functions and duties as may be enjoined on him personally by the Board or by the Working Committee."
The clause must be read in conjunction with another by-law which states: "If any member or an associate member or any office-bearer or any vice-president of the Board refuses or neglects to comply with the provisions of the rules or is guilty of such conduct as the Board may consider likely to endanger the harmony or affect the reputation, stability or interest of the Board, such member or office-bearer or vice-president shall be liable to expulsion from the Board, specially convened for the purpose, provided that the resolution for expulsion is carried by a majority of 3/4th of the votes of the members present and voting."
Even if the BCCI president had not suspended Modi, the Working Committee would have done it May 2. After that, the board will have to call a special general meeting to ratify the decision by a two-thirds majority. All these exercises can take a maximum of six months.
Armed with these provisions, the Board president slapped the suspension letter with the show cause on Modi. The president can also appoint an inquiry committee to go into the charges levelled against Modi and ask him to appear before it.
The board constituted such probe committees to act against high-profile members. The last one was against former BCCI chief Jagmohan Dalmiya more or less on similar charges of alleged financial bungling.
The Modi camp appeared to have anticipated the move and a source close to him told IANS that the Board’s hasty action will take the issue to a court.