New Delhi: Even before the Supreme Court opened the sealed envelope containing votes of the controversial Rajasthan Cricket Association elections, the Board of Control for Cricket in India on Monday conceded 'defeat' to arch-rival Lalit Modi. But the apex court was in no hurry to declare Modi as RCA chief, saying it will hear the case again on March 4 and make a final decision after that. The court is hearing a Special Leave Petition, filed jointly by former RCA chief Kishore Rungta and the BCCI, opposing Modi's return as RCA president. Modi contested the RCA election in Jaipur on December 19 and is widely expected to win.
BCCI and Rungta are challenging the Rajasthan Sports Act 2005 that enabled Modi contest the RCA elections. The Supreme Court has so far heard the case thrice, the first two instances being January 6 and 17. Thirty-two districts, affiliated to the RCA, voted on December 19 and the Modi faction has claimed absolute majority. The elections were held under supervision of two retired Supreme Court judges. The votes are in a sealed envelope which can only be opened by the apex court.
Modi has been banned by the BCCI for life for financial irregularities when he was IPL chief. The Board says Modi's return will tarnish the image of Indian cricket. BCCI lawyers told the Supreme Court judges that Modi was ineligible to contest since he was banned. Conceding the fact that the UK-based businessman is expected to win 26-6, BCCI's lawyers said RCA could face expulsion if Modi became its chief.
How Modi is trying to find his way back in Indian cricket? The following are the main developments:
* The RCA elections were held in Jaipur on December 19 under the supervision of two former Supreme Court judges, NM Kasliwal and SP Pathak. Although Modi's supporters claimed that they had the support of 29 of the 32 district units, the sealed ballot box was sent to the Supreme Court. The top court was expected to announce the results on January 6 but deferred it to Friday. Modi (Nagaur district) is contesting Rampal Sharma of Bhilwara for the president's post.
* Even if Modi, who lives in 'exile' in UK, sweeps the RCA elections, he may not be able to take over as president straightaway. The controversial Rajasthan Sports Act, which enabled Modi to become president for the first time in 2005, has been challenged by RCA's former chief Kishore Rungta, whose family ran Rajasthan cricket for more than three decades. Rungta's petition has the support of the BCCI which banned Modi for life in September 2013.
* Rungta and the BCCI are opposing the Rajasthan Sports Act, 2005. Till 2005, the voting rights in RCA had lain with 67 individual members and 32 district associations. The Rajasthan government, headed by BJP's Vasundhara Raje, introduced the controversial Act in 2005. It abolished the voting rights of individual members and only allowed the districts to vote. In a closely-fought election, Modi toppled Rungta by a solitary vote. Modi ruled the RCA from 2005 to 2009.
* Rungta challenged the Sports Act in the High Court in 2005 but his application was rejected. Rungta then filed a Special Leave Petition in the Supreme Court in 2007.
* Meanwhile, Modi fell foul with the BCCI management led by N. Srinivasan. On September 4, 2013, a BCCI disciplinary committee led, by BJP heavyweight Arun Jaitley, filed a 133-page report finding Modi guilty of misusing his power when he ran the world's richest T20 championship from 2008-2010. Modi was suspended as IPL chairman in April 2010 on charges of misusing his powers, including financial irregularities. Lalit Modi was unanimously banned by BCCI on September 25, 2013.
* On October 18, Modi received interim relief from the Rajasthan high court, staying the life ban imposed on him by the Board of Control for Cricket in India.
* The RCA elections were scheduled on December 19. The decision was taken by Justice Kasliwal, the Supreme Court-appointed principal observer to overlook the Rajasthan polls.
* On the basis of the Sports Act (which does not recognize the BCCI ban on Modi), the judges allowed Modi to contest and accepted his nomination. Incumbent RCA president C.P. Joshi, a senior Congress minister, refused to contest. Joshi's decision came in the wake of the Congress rout in the state's Assembly elections. Joshi apparently failed to muster the necessary numbers.
* BCCI threatens to ban Rajasthan if Modi is elected president. Says RCA stands to lose its rights and privileges as a BCCI member. But the judges allow the elections to go ahead. Modi's group claims victory.
* On December 28, the BCCI working committee decides to "intervene" in the SLP filed by Rungta in the Supreme Court challenging the Rajasthan Sports Act. BCCI says Modi's return will tarnish the image of Indian cricket.
* On January 6, Supreme Court does not declare the results. It says that status quo will continue and the next hearing will be on January 17. The announcement of the results is once again deferred to January 27.