The BCCI has decided to withdraw the civil suit it had filed against Jagmohan Dalmiya, its former president, relating to embezzlement of funds from the 1996 World Cup, and also the expulsion notice it had imposed on him in 2006.
Dalmiya welcomed the board's latest decision. "I have all along been committed to the fair administration of the game of cricket." he told PTI. "I would like to thank the BCCI and its members for acting fairly."
Shashank Manohar, the BCCI president, denied the board had dropped charges against Dalmiya, and told ESPNcricinfo that only the civil suit had been withdrawn. "The prosecution was filed by the state, it is not for the board to drop the charges. It is a state case." The case against Dalmiya has been consistently postponed, and no ruling has been issued by the courts till date.
"What we have done is that we have withdrawn the civil suit filed against Dalmiya because it was based on an entry in the account books. The matter is going on for last three years and Board is spending money, time and energy for that litigation, so we asked for opinions from two experts," Manohar said. "One is a retired Supreme Court judge Manoj Mukherjee and the other is Soli Sorabjee, and both of them opined that there is very little chance of the board succeeding in this suit."
A top board official told ESPNcricinfo that both legal counsels had suggested that the suit would be futile on two counts: jurisdiction and lack of evidence. "In the final analysis the board decided to exonerate Dalmiya," the source said. "Instead as a goodwill gesture, it opted for settlement with him."
Manohar concurred with the viewpoint: "It was felt unnecessary that we go on spending money on a litigation which we are not going to succeed, and that is why we withdrew the suit."
On the revocation of Dalmiya's expulsion, Manohar said that Dalmiya had made an application for that to the board. "There is a provision under the board constitution, under clause 32(6), that a person who has been expelled has the right to make an application for re-entry after three years. It was felt that as it is, Dalmiya has got an order from the court staying his expulsion.
"As I always say, we have no grievances against individuals, we don't fight for egos. So when Dalmiya is sitting there for three years, it is no point that we, just on paper, continue his expulsion. Therefore, we withdrew the expulsion."
The board's decision, taken today at its annual general meeting, brings the curtain down on a tale of suits and counter-suits that began with Sharad Pawar's appointment as BCCI president in 2005.
Dalmiya's problems with the board began in February 2006, when Pawar appointed a committee to investigate alleged financial irregularities in the PILCOM [Pakistan-India-Lanka Committee] account. PILCOM was formed when the three countries hosted the 1996 World Cup, which happened under Dalmiya's watch. There was already bad blood between the two men, as Dalmiya had cast the deciding vote in the 2004 board election that Pawar lost.
In March 2006, the board filed a complaint with the Mumbai police against Dalmiya, and later that year expelled him from the BCCI on charges of misappropriation of funds. The expulsion meant Dalmiya could not hold any posts in the BCCI or its affiliates, including the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) and the National Cricket Club, both of which he headed at the time. He countered by filing a suit in the Calcutta High Court, which stayed the expulsion in July 2007, and said Dalmiya was free to contest the CAB elections. Soon after, Dalmiya filed a perjury case against the BCCI before the court.
In March 2008, the Mumbai police said it had found evidence that Dalmiya had misappropriated funds to the tune of Rs 2.90 crore (approx US$630,000) during the 1996 World Cup, and filed a chargesheet in a Mumbai sessions court. Dalmiya was subsequently arrested, but immediately granted bail. He dismissed the development as another ploy by the BCCI to unsettle him ahead of the upcoming 2008 CAB elections, which he was contesting. He was comfortably elected CAB president that year though.
In November 2008, the Calcutta High Court ordered the initiation of criminal proceedings against six BCCI officials, including Manohar and Pawar, for filing a false affidavit in the Dalmiya case. The BCCI challenged the order in the Supreme Court, which stayed the criminal proceedings.
Tariq Engineer is a senior sub-editor at Cricinfo