April 10: Jagmohan Dalmiya won a reprieve in court today but lost another battle outside.
Exercising the more extreme of the two options, Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) president Sharad Pawar has suspended Dalmiya, pending inquiry by the disciplinary committee into charges of financial irregularities.
Dalmiya, a former BCCI (as also International Cricket Council) chief, remains the president of the Cricket Association of Bengal but he cannot take part in BCCI meetings as long as the suspension is in force.
The inquiry, as laid down in the BCCI’s constitution, has to conclude within six months. While Pawar heads the disciplinary committee, vice-presidents Shashank Manohar and Chirayu Amin are the other members.
If the disciplinary committee takes all of six months to reach a decision, then Dalmiya won’t be able to attend the AGM, usually held by end-September.
According to The Telegraph’s sources, Pawar was probably inclined to refer the Dalmiya issue to the disciplinary committee, instead of straightaway suspending him, but was perhaps strongly influenced by the hawks who wanted to make an “example” of Dalmiya.
Not many years ago, Dalmiya had got friend-turned-foe Inderjit Singh Bindra banned. Today, Bindra (also a former BCCI chief) has had his revenge.
In an ironic twist, a few hours before the suspension was announced in Chennai, Bombay High Court had granted anticipatory bail to Dalmiya in the case of alleged misappropriation of board funds totalling Rs 21.74 lakh.
Justice V.M. Kanade gave bail to Dalmiya and other former board officials like Kishore Rungta, S.K. Nair and Jyoti Bajpai on personal bonds of Rs 25,000 each. They have also been asked to seek the permission of the court before leaving the country.
The court directed the prosecution to give a 72-hour notice to Dalmiya and others if it requires their presence for any inquiry. The judge allowed the prosecution to approach the court for cancellation of bail if and when additional evidence is gathered.
The prosecution strongly opposed the anticipatory bail plea on the ground that Dalmiya’s custodial interrogation was necessary for further investigation.
Justice Kanade repeatedly took the prosecution to task, wondering why the prosecution had not raised these objections during the last 10 years and demanded documentary evidence from BCCI records to show if it had done so when Dalmiya headed the cricket body.
The judge said the prosecution had shown “undue haste” in filing the complaint.
He asked the lawyer whether the BCCI accounts had been audited till April 2005 as submitted by the defence. When the lawyer submitted that the accounts were not audited, the court asked him if he was willing to record that statement before the court and face action if it was found to be incorrect. The lawyer said he would get proper authorisation before recording such a statement.
The decision to suspend Dalmiya was announced in Chennai by BCCI treasurer N. Srinivasan ' an unusual move as, usually, the secretary or president makes public important decisions.
Srinivasan said the suspension decision was taken largely because of irregularities in business transactions.
“Non-availability of book of accounts regarding transfer of Rs 1.59 crore and expenses to the tune of Rs 1.28 crore relating to telephone and communication and other expenses over platinum jubilee celebrations were discussed,” he said.