Modi wants independent panel to hear his case
Lalit Modi, the suspended chairman of the Indian Premier League (IPL), has asked the BCCI president, Shashank Manohar, and secretary N Srinivasan to remove themselves from all proceedings involving the show cause notice issued to him and to instead constitute an independent panel to adjudicate on the issue. This was communicated in an email - a copy of which is with Cricinfo - sent on Tuesday by Modi to the league's governing council, which also contained a series of allegations over several decisions regarding the IPL.
The mail is effectively Modi's counter to the chargesheet served on him by the BCCI on April 26 - Modi's official reply, which ran into 160 pages and 15,000 pages of supporting evidence, has not yet been made public.
While part of the mail deals with issues mentioned in the chargesheet - including the ownership of the Rajasthan Royals franchise - the bulk of it comprises the alleged involvement of Manohar in the franchise auction process last March and of Srinivasan in the 2010 player auction. It is this involvement, Modi contends, that warranted the absence of both officials from the process that would investigate the charges against him.
Manohar, Modi alleges, was responsible for the controversial decision to scrap the initial opening of tenders for the franchises and went out of his way to entertain former minister of state for external affairs Shashi Tharoor and accept the Kochi bid much after the lapse of deadline.
He denies the allegation that he tried rigging the bids in favour of two business houses for the two new teams added for the fourth edition of the IPL; instead he claims the bids were processed and vetted by the board's corporate lawyers and counsel Akhila Kaushik, appointed on Manohar's recommendation.
He claims Manohar was party to the decision fixing the net worth of the bidder at $1 billion and that he discussed the issue of deposit also with him at the Governing Council meeting on March 7 and got his approval.
He also alleged it was Manohar who pitched in for Tharoor to include the bid of Rendezvous after the deadline had lapsed. "You wanted me to wait till the Kochi bid came from Delhi," Modi writes, adding that Manohar spoke to Tharoor and his secretary several times after he refused to entertain the minister's request for extension of deadline.
Modi has brought up the issue of the controversial IPL TV contract with Sony and MSM, claiming that Manohar was aware of the termination last year of the contract with Sony and the subsequent litigation and eventual settlement. The litigation process was, he claims, supervised by Akhila Kaushik, "who reports directly to you".
Srinivasan, Modi alleged, had been "instrumental in sponsoring complaints" against him and his participation would be "tantamount to him being a judge in his own cause". Modi also said he wanted to cross-examine Srinivasan in the inquiry.
Among the charges levied, Modi said he had "sufficient cause to apprehend bias" on Srinivasan's part and that he had "consistently frustrated and exposed his attempts at misusing his position as Honorary Secretary of the Board, so as to confer a wrongful benefit to his team at the cost and expense of other teams and the BCCI."
Modi alleged that Srinivasan had tried to "alter or propose panel of umpires" officiating in the IPL matches and had circulated an email "directing a panel of umpires handpicked by him". He claimed Srinivasan had attempted to ensure umpires from Chennai or Tamil Nadu stood in his team's matches.
Another charge Modi made against Srinivasan was that he had "consistently pushed tailor-made policies" intended to benefit the Chennai franchise. In support of this charge, Modi cited the proposal of franchises retaining seven players (four Indian, three foreign) for the 2011 season and beyond. Modi's reply to the show cause says Srinivasan tried to get franchises to agree to the proposal and that the "only reason for doing so was to ensure that Chennai Super King retained its players."
Modi also alleged that Srinivasan had tried to ensure Kieron Pollard, who was bought by Mumbai Indians during a silent tiebreaker in the 2010 auction, could not play "by raising some frivolous issues with the West Indian Cricket Board." Modi termed Srinivasan's action a "brazen act of abuse of power".
He claimed Srinivasan had used his power to "alter the auction rules" so that Chennai's purse would be $2 million as opposed to the $1.85 million that was mentioned prior to the auction. "Despite my opposition he used his clout as secretary to pressure the management to accept back-dated player contracts and cancel the contracts of one of his players so that he could have his full purse and thereby have an advantage in the bidding process vis-a-vis other teams."
Regarding the issue of Srinivasan's alleged conflict of interest, raised by former BCCI president AC Muttiah, Modi said "false statements have been made in pleadings filed in Court" to protect the position of Srinivasan.
"In the proceedings filed by Mr. Muttiah, it has been stated by the Honorary Secretary on oath that the Regulation 6.2.4 was amended after an action taken report was filed by the two-member committee consisting of Mr. Shashank Manohar and Mr. Niranjan Shah recommending amendment," Modi said. "I state that no such committee was ever appointed, no recommendation was ever made, no special general body meeting approving such report and such amendment ever took place and hence Mr. Shashank Manohar, Mr. Niranjan Shah - the Vice Chairman - IPL and Mr. N Srinavasan have connived and played not only on the members of the Board but also on the Court."