September 6; The BCCI’s disciplinary committee has found Lalit Modi, the former IPL chairman, guilty on eight different charges of “various acts of indiscipline and misconduct”. The charges, relating to irregularities in various financial and administrative matters of the IPL including the sale of franchise and media rights, were pressed by the BCCI in 2010 soon after Modi’s swift and dramatic exit from the league he founded.
The 134-page report – prepared by a committee comprising senior BCCI functionaries Arun Jaitley, Chirayu Amin and Jyotiraditya Scindia – has been submitted to the BCCI and will be discussed at a special general meeting on September 25. It is believed that a life ban for Modi will be recommended and accepted at the meeting.
In his reaction to the report, Modi pointed out several flaws in both the procedure and the findings. He alleged that Jaitley had a bias against him and also was the “strongest supporter” of N Srinivasan, the BCCI president. Modi said one of his main lines of defence was that the enquiry against him was “vitiated on account of malafide” because he had opposed Srinivasan’s conflict of interest as team owner and administrator. He claimed that Jaitley “did not allow any question to be put in respect of Srinivasan’s conflict of interest and virtually skirted the issue of Srinivasan’s conflict of interest in his report.” His response to the committee’s actual findings echoed his defence on the various charges.
The committee found Modi guilty of rigging bids during the franchise auction in 2010, arm-twisting the Kochi franchise and threatening to terminate their franchise agreement in favour of another bidder, selling media and internet rights without proper authorization from the BCCI and showing interest in creating a rebel T20 league in England without the knowledge of the BCCI and the ECB. The key charges that stuck:
In 2010, the BCCI drafted an invitation to tender [ITT] for rights to two new franchises that were to be auctioned later that year. The BCCI claimed that Modi added – without formally informing the board – two “onerous conditions” to the ITT: the bidder should have a net worth of US$1bn and must provide a bank guarantee of Rs 460 crores [$100 million]. According to the BCCI, these conditions were not in the draft ITT, which was approved by the IPL Governing Council, and were added by Modi to the final document. Modi’s defence was that he had informed the then BCCI president, Shashank Manohar, verbally but the disciplinary committee concluded that Modi had acted without the authorization of the governing council. The panel reasoned that this was done to “exclude healthy competition and favour two bidders, which is evident from the fact that only two bids were received in pursuant to the ITT.”
The rights to the two new franchises in 2010 – Pune Warriors and Kochi Tuskers – were bought by Sahara Adventure Sports and Rendezvous Sports World Pvt Ltd respectively.
The BCCI’s contention was that Modi was “favouring another bidder” and had threatened a “representative” of the Kochi franchise to give up the rights, failing which he could impose various sanctions that could harm the new entrant. The BCCI claimed that Modi’s threat was an “act of indiscipline and misconduct”.
The disciplinary panel found that the charge stood against Modi because “despite being the successful bidder, Mr Modi made a roving enquiry on the ownership details of the Kochi franchise at the stage of signing the Franchise Agreement.” The report stated: “He goes out of his way in making intrusive questions about the ownership details of the Kochi franchise.” The panel said the act of arm-twisting was detrimental to the BCCI’s interest and “endangered the harmony and affected the reputation of the BCCI.”
TV rights issue
In January 2008, World Sports Group (Mauritius) was granted television rights for the IPL between 2008-2017 and entered into a partnership with Multi Screen Media (MSM), which would broadcast the IPL in India. In March 2009, the BCCI unilaterally terminated its agreement with MSM and signed a new broadcasting deal with WSG Mauritius, for worldwide and subcontinent rights between 2009 and 2017, in the matter of a few hours.
However, under the rules of the agreement, WSG Mauritius had 72 hours to find a broadcast partner failing which it would need to pay Rs 112.5 crores and the rights would revert to the BCCI. According to the BCCI, the clause was a way of stalling until MSM agreed to pay the facilitation fee of US$80 million (Rs 425 crore) to WSG, a sum that the BCCI should have ideally got. The disciplinary panel found that WSG Mauritius had attempted to find a broadcasting partner but Modi, by not allowing BCCI the 112.5 crore had acted in a manner “detrimental to the board”. On the facilitation fee, Modi claimed that neither he nor the BCCI could be expected to know what qualified as “untenable” for the panel.