Calcutta, July 12: The ball has just landed in Justice Manmohan Sarin’s court, but much of the focus in the Ajay Jadeja case remains on arbitrator Justice (retd) J.K. Mehra and his controversial award.
For one, there’s still disbelief over his refusal to allow the Board lawyers (J.M. Mukhi and Usha Nath Banerjee) to cross-examine Jadeja on the hundreds of calls — coinciding with the eve of matches and match days proper — from Chennai-based bookie S. Uttam Chand.
[The Board, which has challenged the award, drew Justice Sarin’s attention to the arbitrator’s “bias” during Tuesday’s hearing in the Delhi High Court. Justice Mehra, it may be recalled, quashed Jadeja’s five-year ban on January 27 this year. The award, of course, threatens to destroy Team India.]
Then, according to The Telegraph’s sources, the arbitration records saw inexplicable deletions. Apparently, no convincing explanation was forthcoming.
One understands the Q&A session on Jadeja’s income from properties and his participation in an exhibition match in North America (in 2001), despite being banned from all forms of cricket till December 5, 2005, don’t figure in black and white.
It’s to be seen, though, whether the deletions too are brought to Justice Sarin’s attention.
Incidentally, had Justice Mehra allowed the Board to cross-examine Jadeja, the one-time (stand-in) limited overs’ India captain would have been exposed with a capital E.
According to information available, the Board’s “reply”, placed before Justice Mehra, included dozens of Chand’s cellphone printouts which listed calls to Jadeja — one even as late as 11.58 pm!
Significantly, the printouts were part of the Central Bureau of Investigation’s (CBI’s) affidavit before the Delhi High Court, when Jadeja’s writ was heard in mid-2001.
That affidavit, by the way, took Jadeja to the cleaners, particularly on the calls’ bit. Till then, by furnishing “Delhi network” printouts only, he claimed there was no communication between him and Chand.
Jadeja, however, hadn’t reckoned the CBI would seek AirTel’s help in outsmarting him.
In fact, an AirTel letter of May 3, 2001 to a senior CBI official read: “We have gone through the contents of your letter (May 2, 2001) and the accompanying printout of mobile no. 98100-34882 and wish to inform you as under:
“The calls (both incoming and outgoing) relate only to that period when the mobile phone was active in the Delhi network of Bharti Cellular Ltd. Since this mobile is also having the roaming facility, the calls made/received if the mobile no. was outside Delhi network are not reflected in this printout…”
The disbelief over Justice Mehra’s refusal on the cross-examination front is, to say the least, understandable.
Meanwhile, besides the ‘support’ of high-profile politicians, Jadeja is being ‘backed’ by two members of the 1983 World Cup-winning XI. Both don’t lack influence.
For those following this case, the next hearing is slated for July 15.