The stand-off between Lalit Modi, the suspended Indian Premier League (IPL) chairman, and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) took a major turn on Thursday when the Bombay High Court refused to grant Modi the relief he sought.
The court, after hearing arguments from both sides, dismissed Modi’s petition asking it to quash the BCCI’s proceedings against him and appoint an independent panel to hear his case.
This means Modi will have to appear before the BCCI’s three-member disciplinary committee on Friday.
However, there was no confirmation that Modi would appear. A source close to him said that he was currently holidaying in Sardinia, off the coast of Italy, and might be represented by his lawyer.
A division bench of Justices B.H. Marlapalle and Roshan Dalvi considered the fact that the disciplinary committee had offered Modi a chance to raise his preliminary objections. The judges relied on a July 7 mail from the committee to Modi in which he was assured a proper hearing. They therefore dismissed the petition as premature.
Mahmood Abdi, member of Modi’s legal team indicated that Modi would continue to press for changes in the composition of the disciplinary committee. “The BCCI will consider the demand for recusal at the disciplinary committee meeting,” said Abdi.
The BCCI sought to downplay the court’s decision. “We don’t look at this verdict in terms of victory or defeat,” BCCI Chief Administrative Officer Ratnakar Shetty said. “We followed a procedure and it was challenged by Modi in the court. The court has given its directive.”
Modi has been accused of financial irregularities relating to the bidding process for IPL teams, the mid-over ad sales and the sale of theatrical rights, among other things.
The BCCI has given no indication that it would look to reconstitute the disciplinary committee, which already has a fresh entrant in Jyotiraditya Scindia, who took the place of the Shashank Manohar. Senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley and interim IPL chairman Chirayu Amin are the other two members of the committee.
Modi has contended that Amin should not be part of the committee as he was part of a failed bid to buy an IPL team. He also wants Jaitley to recuse himself as he was one of the BCCI members who voted to ratify the charges against Modi.