Mumbai: In what can be said to be a big setback to the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), Lalit Modi’s legal counsels have been allowed to cross-examine the cricket board officials who had given statements against the former vice-president (VP) of BCCI and governing chairman of the Indian Premier League (IPL) to the Enforcement Directorate (ED). ED has alleged violations of Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA 1999) based on these statements.
The High Court bench of justices S C Dharmadhikari and Bharati Dangre passed its order on a petition filed by Modi challenging a July 2015 order of the adjudicating authority, the ED. Dharmadhikari said, “We direct the adjudicating authority to issue summons to the witnesses to appear before it on March 2. The cross-examination shall be concluded positively by March 13. The proceedings shall be completed by May 31,” the court directed. The bench allowed Modi’s petition and said the impugned order grossly violated the principles of natural justice as the adjudicating authority was going to rely on the statements of the witnesses against Modi.
“These are not merely referred material, if they are to be relied upon. We feel they are powerful and they should be cross examined.” The ED has alleged violations of foreign exchange rules during the 2009 edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) held in South Africa. The judge made critical observation after dictating the order on the IPL concept and their failure to adhere to the rules and laws. He said, “IPL has made the public familiar with phrases like betting and fixing. If the IPL has led to so many breaches and violations (of foreign exchange) the BCCI and central government needs to see if the tournament was in interest of the game of cricket.”
In 2013, the ED initiated adjudication proceedings against Modi under FEMA regarding a bank account opened by the BCCI and IPL authorities in South Africa ahead of the 2009 edition of the IPL.