The Supreme Court has cleared the deck for a formal announcement of the Rajasthan Cricket Association elections which were held in Jaipur on December 19 last year. On Wednesday, after at least half-a-dozen postponements due to various legal reasons, the Supreme Court has finally directed the election officers to open the sealed ballot box (envelope) on May 6. Lalit Modi is set to return as RCA president, but only just.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India and former RCA chief Kishore Rungta are vehemently opposing Modi's return. Although the BCCI has conceded defeat in Supreme Court - saying Modi has won 26 of the 33 votes - the Board has been allowed to challenge the controversial Rajasthan Sports Act that enabled Modi to contest for the president's post for a second time.
In another shot in the arm for BCCI, the Supreme Court has allowed the Board, an autonomous body, to take its own action against RCA. In December, after Modi filed his nomination, the Board had threatened to suspend Rajasthan. In September last year, Modi was banned by the BCCI for financial wrongdoings. Fifty-year-old Modi challenged the decision in court.
Riding the Rajasthan Sports Act 2005, Modi contested the elections which were supervised by two retired Supreme Court judges, NM Kasliwal and SP Pathak. The votes, casted by 33 district units, were submitted to the apex court in a sealed envelope. While directing that the ballot should be opened on May 6, the Supreme Court also said in case of any dispute regarding the elections, the candidates "can approach appropriate forums".
It means more battles will be fought in the court, effectively stalling Modi's second innings as RCA president. Modi lives in exile in UK and is seen as an arch-rival of 'suspended' BCCI president N. Srinivasan. Although Srinivasan is fighting allegations of IPL-related corruption in the Supreme Court, he continues to wield massive clout internally in the BCCI. Modi's return in Indian cricket administration is not going to be a walk in the park.