7/15/10

The Bombay High Court on Thursday refused to grant any relief to suspended IPL chairman Lalit Modi ahead of the Cricket Board's Disciplinary Committee meeting and left the issue of reconstituting the panel on the members.

The division bench of Justices BH Marlapalle and Roshan Dalvi dismissed Modi's plea seeking reconstitution of the three-member disciplinary panel and cleared the decks for the disciplinary proceedings against him to commence.

The committee, comprising interim IPL chairman Chirayu Amin, Arun Jaitley and Jyotiraditya Scindia - has summoned Modi to appear before it on Friday.

However, the court also indicated that the final finding can be challenged by Modi and he can even raise the issue of constitution of the committee at that point.

Modi's objection to the committee was that it would be biased against him and he had sought that the panel be made up of independent persons, preferably retired Supreme Court judges.

But the division bench said that as per the BCCI rules, "Disciplinary committee has limited powers....it is only required to inquire into charges and submit the final report to the board. The board is the final decision-making body."

Modi had objected to Amin and Jaitley, two members of the committee, to remain on the panel.

Modi's lawyer Virag Tulzhapurkar said Amin had a "personal bias" against Modi, whereas Jaitley was on the IPL governing council which "ratified" formation of committee.

"So the decision of the committee is a foregone conclusion," he had argued.

But the court said that it was leaving the decision to these two persons whether they should withdraw from the panel on "moral grounds" and "it would not be proper for the court to interfere" now.

In his petition, Modi had sought suspension of the whole disciplinary proceedings.

But in view of his July 6 letter to the BCCI seeking reformation of the panel, court said that it would not consider other issues raised by him.

The court made it clear that it was "not going into the legality of the constitution of the committee", but did not want to exercise its jurisdiction at this stage.

BCCI lawyer A Sundaram had earlier contended that the disciplinary committee had been set up as per its rules, and Modi, being a member, was aware of the rules.

High Court can not deal with "internal matters" of the board, he said.

Slapped with three show cause notices by BCCI accusing him of financial irregularities and bid-rigging in the conduct of IPL, Modi had responded with a staggering 15,000-page reply to the first show cause notice served on him on April 26.