No violation of ITT terms in IPL theatrical rights: Abdi
Mumbai: Suspended IPL Commissioner Lalit Modi, in his reply to the third show cause notice slapped by the BCCI, has maintained that there had been no violation of the clauses of Invitation to Tender in awarding of theatrical rights in IPL III.
“There’s neither any violation of ITT terms issued by the BCCI on the theatrical rights nor any operational precedent of BCCI or IPL was violated (in the awarding of the rights),” stated Modi’s legal counsel Mehmood Abdi today.
Abdi said Entertainment Sports Direct won the theatrical rights for USD 41.40 million outbidding Triplecom Media, who had quoted USD 23 million whereas the base price was fixed at USD 20 million.
Modi’s counsel blamed BCCI secretary N Srinivasan for the considerable delay in signing of the deal though the IPL Governing Council had approved it on November 12, 2009.
“The agreement was signed only on 22nd January, 2010 while the IPL was to commence on March 12. As ESD was based out of India it required regulatory clearances which could not come about in time as IPL was to start shortly.
“The inordinate delay in the signing of the agreement was caused by the conduct of the honorary secretary of BCCI (N Srinivasan),” said Abdi.
Modi’s 50-page reply (with attachments) to the third show cause was e-mailed to the BCCI yesterday by the suspended T20 League’s chief and the hard copy was handed over to BCCI’s CAO Ratnakar Shetty today by Abdi.
Abdi said non-signing of the agreement by Modi would have deprived Indian viewers of watching the IPL action on theatre screens and the Board would have lost a new revenue stream.
"Indian viewers would have been denied of watching IPL matches live on theatre screens and loss of revenue would have been caused to BCCI (if agreement had not been signed)," he said.
Abdi said a similar delay by Srinivasan during IPL II over selling of theatrical rights caused financial loss to the BCCI.
"The idea of monetising the theatrical rights was tasked during IPL II as well but due to the delay caused by honorary secretary Mr Srinivasan it could not materialise," Abdi said.
He also said that the tender did not forbid the successful bidder from roping in another partner and UFO Movies, who have the largest reach in the number of its screens, was chosen by the bidder to be its partner.
"IPL did not have any say on who the bidders chose (as partners). Further the assignment was permitted in the ITT," he said.
The second charge slapped on Modi in the show cause related to selling of 150-second commercial spot in between balls in an over during the telecast of IPL matches and Abdi said the idea was approved by the Governing Council on March 7.
"For the first time it was suggested by the marketing experts from both IMG (event management firm) and the IPL to monetise it for introducing a fresh revenue stream for BCCI and the Governing Council approved it on March 7, 2010," Modi`s counsel said.
With the IPL starting just five days there was no time to float a tender for selling these rights, Abdi said.
"To safeguard the BCCI`s interest in the best possible manner it was granted to Pioneer Digadsis on a non-exclusive basis for an estimated revenue of Rs 28 crore," he said.
Abdi said that the spectacular success of the IPL in the short span of two years was mainly due to the circumvention of red-tapism and bureaucratic functioning of an organisation.
"What the IPL has achieved in two years was largely due to the strength of functional efficiency by surpassing bureaucratic and red tape channels of any organisation.
Operational requirements demanded taking of spot decisions due to paucity of time.
"This was one such example where the Governing Council had to (later) ratify the decision. These are the issues which mainly concerned the operational team of IPL," Abdi said.
With the BCCI maintaining a studied silence over Modi`s demand for recusals of both Srinivasan and BCCI chief Shashank Manohar from any future disciplinary proceeding against the suspended IPL commissioner, Abdi wished that the Board be made more accountable and brought under judicial scrutiny.
He also wondered whether Modi is being tried out under draconian laws as MISA or under the Defence of India rules without rights to defend himself or of appealing.
"Recusal is the legal right of any litigant. The complete disregard of BCCI to Mr Modi`s demand for recusal of Mr Manohar and Mr Srinivasan puts a question mark and leaves one to wonder whether it is above all legal precedents and is a law into itself," Abdi said.
"BCCI is the supreme body governing and regulating the cricketing activities of the country. The team sent by BCCI is seen as the national team. BCCI, therefore, should be accountable to some public institution and more so to the people of India at large.
"If BCCI`s bylaws provide scope for some office bearer to pursue his personal agenda by holding the organisation and its reputation to ransom, these arbitrary bylaws need a second look," he added.