The Indian cricket board is trying to dissuade some key witnesses who Lalit Modi wants to appear before a BCCI disciplinary committee, the suspended IPL chairman and commissioner has alleged.
Modi, who is facing the BCCI inquiry for his alleged "individual misdemeanours” in the IPL, has alleged that Board president N Srinivasan sent a "subtle message” to Punjab Cricket Association (PCA) president IS Bindra to refrain from deposing.
IPL chief operating officer Sundar Raman did something similar with an official of the Rajasthan Royals, Manoj Bithal, Modi’s defence team has alleged.
Besides Bindra and Bithal, Modi’s defence team has sought the presence of Sunil Gavaskar, Andrew Georgio and Venu Nair of the World Sports Group (WSG), and IMG top gun Andrew Wildblood for examination.
"These witnesses should be summoned if the true aim of the inquiry is to know the truth,” Mehmood M. Abdi, general counsel & constituted attorney of Modi, says in the letter to the special BCCI disciplinary committee.
These six "important and relevant” people have been summoned in connection with issues ranging from the IPL television rights deal with Sony to some tender documents.
"We had requested Mr. Bindra to provide us with a witness statement.
However, BCCI president Mr. N. Srinivasan sent (a) subtle message to Mr. Bindra, asking him not to depose in the inquiry.
Through Mr. Srinivasan’s mechanisation the matter was even taken up at the level of PCA,” alleges Abdi.
"Mr. Bindra was told that to give evidence in favour of Mr. Modi would be construed as going against BCCI, which, as an administrator, he cannot do,” he has written. "Our request to the committee is that this is an in-house proceeding and when witness(es) depose about matters in their knowledge, even on behalf of Mr.
Modi, they are not acting adversarial to the BCCI’s interest.” Abdi has alleged that Raman did something similar to Bithal.
"Even in respect of Mr. Manoj Bithal, after he gave evidence in favour of Mr. Modi, Mr. Sundar Raman, acting ostensibly on instructions of Mr. N. Srinivasan, sent message to Mr. Manoj Badale that as (a) franchisee of IPL how he could provide witness statement in favour of Mr. Modi,” he has written.
"Mr. Badale clarified that he had not made a witness statement, but it was Mr. Bithal who had done so.” Modi’s constituted attorney further hinted that BCCI even indulged in arm twisting tactics.
"At that point of time, BCCI was seeking to compromise its arbitration dispute both with Kings XI Punjab and Rajasthan Royals.
The consent terms with Kings XI Punjab were filed in Bombay High Court on 7.12.2012,” the letter says. "However, only because Mr. Bithal gave witness statement in favour of Mr. Modi, Rajasthan Royals was told that they can forget about same treatment as given to Kings XI Punjab, though termination of both Kings XI Punjab and Rajasthan Royals was on identical grounds and for identical reasons.”
Abdi has asked the disciplinary committee to send request letters to Bindra and Gavaskar under regulation 1(q). But he is sceptical that certain people might not eventually turn up, though WSG’s Georgiou and Nair have indicated that they would provide evidence if summoned.
"We, therefore, face a situation where all our witnesses who are working in some capacity with BCCI would suffer if they give statement suo-motto on our behalf. In fact, looking to the treatment given to Rajasthan Royals, IMG would not (on) its own allow Mr. Wildblood to appear as it would be perceived as acting against BCCI. Therefore, Mr. Wildblood should also be sent (a) request letter to give evidence,” Abdi writes.
"Further direction should be given to BCCI and Mr. N. Srinivasan that they should not hold out any threat to witnesses seeking to depose in Mr. Modi’s favour,” he says.
Till Monday, 78 sittings of the disciplinary committee – comprising Arun Jaitley, Jyotiraditya Scindia and Chirayu Amin – have taken place. BCCI suspended Modi on April 25, 2010, slapped him with show cause notices, and initiated a disciplinary inquiry against him. Modi has replied to the notices and has since been living in London.
Bindra reportedly asked to refrain from deposing
WITNESSES MODI IS SEEKING
- Andrew Wildblood: Required to examine him in respect of second show cause notice as he was one of the attendees of the lunch meeting in Delhi with county officials
- I. S. Bindra: To depose that the Sony contract was approved by the IPL GC on Aug 11, 2009, & that on Dec 17, 2009, no tender for two new teams was approved by the GC & that BCCI witness Sundar Raman had lied on this point in his witness statement. Also to show the ill-will Giles Clarke harbours against Modi
- Sunil Gavaskar: To depose that in meeting dated March 7, 2010, IPL GC never reprimanded Modi nor intended to take any action against him on the bid conditions of first round of ITT and the word "reprimanded” in the minutes was incorrect
- Andrew Georgiou & Venu Nair: To depose regarding the BCCI TV rights issue as set out in the show cause notice & their facilitation fee arrangement with Sony (Quoted from the letter)