RCA elections today, Lalit Modi allowed to contest

Jaipur: Former IPL Commissioner Lalit Modi on Wednesday received a shot in the arm after a Supreme Court appointed observer cleared his nomination to contest for the post of President in the Rajasthan Cricket Association (RCA) elections here on Thursday.

Despite being banned for life by the Cricket Board, Modi had defiantly filed his nomination for the elections on Dec 16 which prompted a livid BCCI to threaten suspension of RCA for letting him back.

Retired justice Narendra Mohan Kasliwal, the judge appointed by the Supreme Court to oversee the RCA elections as a principal observer, on Wednesday accepted Modi`s candidature for the top post, rejecting the arguments put forth by his rival, Rampal Sharma`s lawyer.

Bhilwara District Cricket Association secretary, Sharma, a close aide of incumbent RCA president C P Joshi, had objected to Modi`s candidature on the ground that the RCA stands to lose its rights and privileges as BCCI member if Modi was voted to power.

The judge also cleared the nomination of another Modi aide Pawan Goyal, secretary of the Alwar District Cricket Association, to contest the elections for the Treasurer post.

Kasliwal arrived at the decision after hearing counsels for both the parties earlier on wednesday.

Opposition lawyer argued on three points: Modi`s passport has been revoked by the Mumbai Regional Passport Office following the probe by the Enforcement Directorate; he can`t run the day-to-day affairs of the RCA sitting in London, and he can`t contest the RCA elections as per the BCCI`s rules and regulations, which say all the members, including RCA, are bound to follow the decision taken and directives issued in the interest of cricket board, especially those related to disciplinary proceedings.

However, lawyer Abhinav Sharma, appearing for Modi, countered that since the RCA was governed by the Rajasthan Sports Act 2005, the BCCI ban was not applicable on the former BCCI vice-president; there is no need for him to be physically present all the time and he can run the management of the RCA from London; and that the client (Modi) has not received the copy of probe report submitted against him to BCCI till date.

The scrutiny of nomination papers had concluded last evening and today is the date of withdrawls till 5 pm. The polling will be held tomorrow between 11 am to 2 pm.

Modi's nomination papers were filed by his lawyer Mehmood Abdi as President of the Nagaur District Cricket Association. Abdi, himself, is aiming for the vice-president's post in the elections.

Following the filing of papers by Modi, BCCI secretary Sanjay Patel had shot off a letter to Joshi, who has decided against contesting the polls.

As things stand, 14 nominations have been filed for the president's post, out of which two are from Modi's rival camp. The other 11 persons who filed nominations for the top post are said to be Modi supporters. His faction already claims to have the support of 24 district units out of a total of 33.

Surprisingly, the nominations filed by Modi group did not include the names of incumbent secretary Sanjay Dixit and also that of deputy president Bimal Soni.

It is worth recollecting that it was with the then BJP CM Vasundhara Raje, a Sports Act was formulated to pave way for Modi and oust the Rungta clan from RCA in the 2005 elections.

With Raje taking over as Rajasthan CM, Modi seems to be regaining his foothold.

There are 33 voters (districts) that make up the electoral list and only an office-bearer of a district association is eligible to contest the election.

According to the Rajasthan Sports Act 2005, only the president, secretary and treasurer are the valid office-bearers.

Modi was banned for life by the BCCI from all cricket matters in India after being found guilty of financial bunglings during his stint as IPL Commissioner but the suspension was stayed by the Rajasthan High Court in October only to be pulled back recently.