Lalit Modi seeks Arun Jaitley's recusal from disciplinary committee

Lalit Modi (above) accused Arun Jaitley of being a complainant in Kochi franchise dispute involving the former © AFP

New Delhi: Apr 22, 2013

Former IPL Commissioner Lalit Modi has sought recusal of Arun Jaitley from the three-member Disciplinary Committee probing charges of irregularities against him in the conduct of the cash-rich T20 cricket tournament.

Citing principle of natural justice, a defence team representing the former IPL head has accused Jaitley of being a complainant in Kochi franchise dispute involving Modi and objected to his being one of the Disciplinary Committee members.

It has also contended that not all the three members were present in-person during most of the disciplinary committee proceedings but via video link or any other medium.

“Jaitley being a complainant in Kochi franchise dispute cannot be a judge. It has been proved by a minutes of meeting of BCCI’s governing council dated June 25, 2010,” said Mehmood M Abdi, General Counsel & Constituted Attorney of Modi.

According to the minutes of the meeting, Jaitley had called the then BCCI head Shashank Manohar to convey apprehension raised by one of the bankers claimed to be associated with Kochi franchise, namely Rendezvous Sports, over undue delay by Modi (who was IPL Commissioner then) in execution of agreements in relation to the franchise even though it was a successful bidder.

Abdi has alleged Jaitley to be involved in issuance of show cause notices by the BCCI against Modi in connection with the irregularities and had raised the issue with the disciplinary panel comprising Jyotiraditya Scindia and Chirayu Amin last year.

The matter was deliberated upon and Jaitley in his statement denied his involvement before the panel.

“I have absolutely no connection or interest, direct or indirect, with Kochi franchise. Neither have I contributed in any manner in the issuance of the show cause notices to Modi,” Jaitley had said.

The demands for Jaitley’s recusal were rejected by the BCCI disciplinary panel.

“This is the thumb rule of the principle of natural justice that a complainant cannot be a judge in his own case.

Hence, whereas Jaitley is complainant in the matter, he ought not to have on the disciplinary panel. More importantly he should have disclosed his interest in the matter,” Abdi said.

The panel, formed in July 2010, is likely to finalise its findings by this week.

Modi’s legal team has also sought cross examination of BCCI witnesses, a demand being constantly rejected by the committee.

“We have been requesting the committee to have the confirmation of statements by the concerned witnesses of BCCI.

We also asked them to supply us the mail and any other confirmations sent to the witnesses asking them to confirm the draft statements. But, we have been denied all this,” Abdi said.

Recently, Modi has filed a written statement running into 229 pages and offered himself to be available for cross examination via video link from the second week of May onwards.

“He has offered to be available for cross examination after second week of May as he is having dental sittings regularly,” said Abdi suggesting that the defence team should be given more time to cross-examine all witnesses and provide more facts.

He has also asked for recall of certain witnesses and also production of Jaitley, Amin, Manohar and present BCCI chief N Srinivasan.

“Instead of dealing with our legal demands fairly, the committee has been issuing character certificates to itself,” Abdi said.