Lalit Modi takes his fight to court

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> Lalit Modi on Friday moved the Bombay High Court to stop the IPL governing council meeting called on Monday, April 26.

Updated: April 24, 2010 08:58 IST
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Lalit Modi on Friday moved the Bombay High Court to stop the IPL governing council meeting called on Monday, April 26.

For Modi, it is the next big step in his battle for survival, especially with only a weekend between Friday and the day of the meeting - Monday. Preparations are afoot to strip him of his IPL positions and IPL governing council member Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi told NDTV that he would prefer a panel of two or three members to take over from Modi.

Modi, who will be represented by top lawyers Ram Jethmalani and Harish Salve, has said that the governing council meeting convened is illegal, since only he, as IPL Commissioner, can call a meeting. He wants the meeting to be held on May 1.

Modi made his point in no uncertain terms in an email to Shashank Manohar, the man who many say may replace him as IPL chief. Manohar is currently the President of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).

What Modi has suggested is that the meeting be postponed to give him some more time to prepare his defense. If that's not acceptable, he says, he will not attend the meeting.

Manohar says Modi can be voted out even if he's absent. Pataudi said Modi would only make things worse for himself if he skipped the session. Pataudi said it behoves Modi to request an extension in person.

Modi's defense strategy, by his own admission, will be anchored on the argument that every decision that he took was sanctioned by the Governing Council. Everyone's guilty, if crimes were committed. So far, his camp has released emails that show he was turned down when he requested that the stakeholders of all IPL teams be publicly named.

Manohar was among those who rejected Modi's suggestion, but that, Manohar says, is because it would have violated confidentiality clauses in agreements with team-owners.

Meanwhile, the inquiry into his alleged financial shenanigans continues, with officials visiting Modi for the second time in less than 24 hours at his hotel in Mumbai on Thursday.

After spending close to six hours with them, Modi left the Four Seasons in his BMW and headed to Mukesh Ambani's office in Nariman Point. He spent 45 minutes with the owner of the Mumbai Indians, and later, flew by helicopter to DY Patil stadium to watch the Deccan Chargers take on the Chennai Super-Kings.

Clearly, this is not a man who's ready to give up his fight to survive as the Chairman and Commissioner of the Indian Premier League (IPL). But just in case you need to hear him say it, just rewind to earlier this week when he told jostling reporters that there is "no chance" of him resigning, even though his colleagues say they will force him out. And if its action and not words you want - there is Modi's plan to go to court on Friday.

Modi is the protagonist (or the villain, depending on who you talk to) in a cricket fairytale turned horror story. The funding of all team-owners and associates of the IPL is being carefully scrutinized by the government. Modi's detractors say he has inflicted this inquiry on the world of Indian cricket with a series of careless tweets earlier this month.

The tweets targeted then minister Shashi Tharoor by questioning his support to and involvement in the consortium that won the franchise last month for the new Kochi team. The fallout was swift. Tharoor was forced to resign, and the government ordered a multi-agency inquiry into the IPL.

From proxy ownership by rich and powerful players to illegal foreign funding from tax havens like Mauritius, the investigation could blow the cover off both the IPL, and its elite guard.

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