The Bombay High Court today said young players only wanted to make money by playing in the popular T20 cricket league IPL and that it was “no more a clean entertainment” in view of alleged violations of foreign exchange rules. Young cricketers want to play in the popular T20 cricket league and “earn Rs five to ten crore in one tournament and not play for the country”, the court said. A division bench of Justices S C Dharmadhikari and Bharati Dangre was hearing 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 FEMA case. The ED has alleged violations of foreign exchange rules during the 2009 edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) held in South Africa. The adjudicating authority had recorded the statements of seven witnesses, including senior BCCI officials, against Modi, but did not allow him to cross-examine them.
Senior counsel Aspi Chinoy, appearing for Modi, argued that his fundamental rights would be violated if he was not allowed to cross-examine the witnesses. The court asked additional solicitor general Anil Singh, who appeared for the ED, what purpose was served by dragging the case on such small issues for so long. “This issue is pending for long. What is the point? The larger public interest is to defeat foreign exchange violations. Looking at the serious allegations, we feel IPL is no more a clean entertainment,” Justice Dharmadhikari said.
“Young cricketers just want to play in IPL and earn Rs five to ten crore in one tournament and not play for the country,” he added. The bench also asked Chinoy if Lalit Modi (who is believed to be in the UK) was ready to return to India and face these proceedings. “In future if your (Lalit Modi’s) presence is required, are you ready to come?” Justice Dharmadhikari asked. Chinoy, however, said Modi (his lawyers) should be allowed to first cross-examine the witnesses in the present case.
The bench would pass order on the petition tomorrow. In 2013, the ED initiated adjudication proceedings against Modi under the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) regarding a bank account opened by the BCCI and IPL authorities in South Africa ahead of the 2009 edition of the IPL. USD five crore were transferred to the bank account in violation of the FEMA, it alleged.