On Wednesday, the India Meteorological Department forecast that some parts of Maharashtra, including Mumbai, would continue to experience a heatwave on Thursday and Friday. Elsewhere, it seemed some of the former BCCI officials were feeling a different kind of heat: of being cross-examined by the Lalit Modi’s lawyers in a case of Foreign Exchange Management (FEMA) Act violations.
On February 1, the Bombay High Court accepted former IPL governing council chairman and commissioner Modi’s plea to cross-examine the top BCCI officials who were in power in 2009, including N. Srinivasan, Chirayu Amin, Shashank Manohar, M.P. Pandove and IPL COO Sundar Raman etc., when the IPL was relocated to South Africa. ED says everything was not above board in the way the BCCI/IPL dealt with the financial transactions for the T20 tournament.
More specifically, according to a statement from Lalit Modi’s team of counsels on Wednesday, Raman and Amin were scheduled to appear for the cross-examination before Special Director, Enforcement Directorate, the adjudicating authority under directions of the Bombay High Court, on March 1 in Mumbai. But, Modi said, both Raman and Amin have excused themselves on health grounds and sought more time from the Special Director.
In a statement, posted on his personal website, Lalit Modi claimed the former BCCI top officials appear to have developed “cold feet at the prospect of being cross-examined” by his legal team.
“Mr Sundar Raman, who was to be cross examined in the forenoon of 1st March, 2018, refused to appear, as in the request of his lawyers Beri & Co. Advocates, ‘he is presently in poor health and is undergoing treatment for the same’ and, therefore, requires time to appear for cross-examination,” says the statement. “Mr Chirayu Amin, who was to be cross-examined in the afternoon of 1st March, 2018, has refused to appear for undisclosed reasons.”
Besides posting the statement, Modi took to twitter to take a dig at his former BCCI colleagues. “If one has nothing to be afraid of, there is no harm in cross examination. Why the cold feet now? Mr. Sundar Raman & Mr. Chirayu Amin? @ramansundar is unwell ; Chirayu is ...? OR *cough* #Coldfeet *cough*,” he tweeted.
“How the ‘big wigs’ develop cold feet when the truth beckons an answer. Shy away from cross examination because too habitual of never being questioned? The ‘mighty’ feel the terror when @LalitKModi counsel gets the chance to cross-examine,” he tweeted.
Modi went on to say that it appeared that there was “much more to it than meets the eye”. He claimed that during the investigation stage of the alleged FEMA violations various erstwhile BCCI office-bearers had appeared before the investigating officer and made “false statements” on which they “now risk being exposed”.
The controversy arose in 2009 when the dates of the IPL clashed with those of the general elections in India. The government expressed helplessness in providing security for IPL matches as the forces were going to be deployed for the staggered general elections. But Lalit Modi got the IPL relocated to South Africa, at short notice, thus rubbing some ministers/politicians the wrong way and annoying them.
The IPL was a big success in South Africa, and returned to India the next year, 2010, which also happened to be Modi’s last as IPL boss. Soon after the 2010 IPL, he left for England even as the ED pricked holes in the manner in which the BCCI/IPL went about its financial transactions for the conduct of the tournament in South Africa.