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Scrutiny clears Lalit for poll

- BCCI fires ‘last warning’, voting today

Jaipur, Dec. 18: Former IPL chief Lalit Modi was today declared eligible to contest the Rajasthan Cricket Association elections, prompting the cricket board to fire the “last warning” shot.

N.M. Kasliwal, a former judge and an observer appointed by the Supreme Court, said he overruled the objections raised against Modi’s nomination for the post of RCA president as they were non-issues under the Rajasthan Sports Act and did not interfere with the eligibility criteria.

During the scrutiny of the papers yesterday, Modi’s opponent Ram Pal Sharma had cited objections such as the fallen IPL star’s absence from India for the past three years and his continuance as Nagaur Cricket Association president despite a life ban on him.

Modi was banned for life by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) after he was accused of financial bungling during his tenure as IPL commissioner. The ban, stayed by Rajasthan High Court in October, was revived early this month.

A notice issued by electoral officer B.L. Gupta and pasted on the RCA premises read: “Objections raised regarding nominations filed by Lalit Modi are rejected.”

The RCA elections will be held tomorrow and the results are scheduled to be declared by the Supreme Court on January 7, 2014.

The Modi camp, led by his advocate Mahmud Abdi, claimed the support of 27 of the 33 district associations. Four votes — those of Ajmer, Dungarpur, Hanumangarh and Pali — will not be counted because of disputes.

But Sharma claimed the support of 25 districts. This camp is also thinking whether the Supreme Court should be approached.

Minutes after the decks were cleared for Modi to contest the elections, Sanjay Patel of the Board of Control for Cricket in India sent a mail to C.P. Joshi, the present RCA president and Congress leader.

“The BCCI is deeply concerned at the stand taken therein. Kindly note that your executive committee cannot sit in judgement over the decisions taken by the BCCI and unless you follow the rules and regulations of the BCCI, you will stand to lose your very right of membership of the BCCI, including the right to send players representing your state association for BCCI-conducted tournaments,” the mail said.

Threatening disciplinary action, the mail added: “We are deeply disturbed to note that you have allowed Mr Lalit Kumar Modi, an expelled administrator of the BCCI, to contest in the forthcoming elections of the RCA to the post of president.

“Having allowed the Nagaur District Cricket Association to continue as your member despite suspension of its president Mr Lalit Kumar Modi as early as on 26th April, 2010, you have facilitated this person to stand for the highest office of your association. Please note that your conduct is wholly unacceptable, inflammatory and totally condemnable. We wish to give you this last warning.”

It added that disciplinary action would be contemplated and the right of membership with the BCCI would be suspended.

But Modi’s lawyer Abdi said the “operative part of the ruling (of Kasliwal) was that Modi was eligible to contest and all objections were overruled as the BCCI and the RCA are governed by different bylaws”.

Asked about the BCCI’s ban, Abdi said: “They have created a hoax, a fear perception that the ban would be immediate and would affect cricket in Rajasthan. The BCCI cannot do it overnight. There is a due process to ban matches, which is also a long-drawn process. The ban is not a worry for us.”

The Modi group claimed that the BCCI-related document on his expulsion had not reached them yet and hence the process of ejection could not be started. Sources said the RCA, governed by the Rajasthan Sports Act, did not have the provision of expulsion, because of which only the executive committee could discuss it after a 21-day mandatory notice period.