Mumbai: The Bombay high court on Tuesday said the Indian Premier League (IPL) has made people familiar with phrases like “betting and fixing" and in view of the alleged violations of foreign exchange rules it was time to see if the tournament was in interest of the game of cricket.
The scathing remarks were made by a division bench of justices S.C. Dharmadhikari and Bharati Dangre while passing its order on a petition filed by former IPL chairman Lalit Modi challenging a July 2015 order of the adjudicating authority of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) refusing him the permission to cross-examine witnesses in a Foreign Exchange Management Act, 1999 (FEMA) case.
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has alleged violations of foreign exchange rules during the 2009 edition of the IPL held in South Africa. The court allowed Modi’s petition and permitted his legal counsels to cross-examine the witnesses but made strong observations on the tournament.
“If IPL has led to serious violations then it is high time the organisers realise whether what has been achieved by conducting the tournament since the past ten years can be termed as a sport or game...for it is full of illegalities and breaches of law," the court said.
“IPL has made us familiar with phrases like betting and fixing of matches. It is for the central government, RBI and organisers to now consider if conducting IPL is in interest of the game/sport," the court said in its order. The bench while allowing Modi’s petition said the impugned order grossly violates the principles of natural justice as the adjudicating authority was going to rely on the statements of the witnesses against Modi.
The court also noted that the proceedings have been dragged for too long now. “We direct the adjudicating authority to issue summons to the witnesses to appear before it on 2 March. The cross- examination shall be concluded positively by March 13. The proceedings shall be completed by May 31," the court directed.
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.