A Disciplinary Committee Report submitted to the BCCI by Arun Jaitley had found Lalit Modi guilty of having indulged in ‘bid-rigging’ by favouring two specific parties, Adani Group and Videocon, during the IPL franchise bidding process in 2010.
The Adani Group has been a long-time commercial partner of Gujarat Cricket Association (GCA), that was headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2010. Modi was replaced as GCA president by Amit Shah in 2014.
The panel found that the then IPL chairman introduced two ‘unreasonable and onerous’ clauses in the final draft of the Invitation to Tender (ITT) without the knowledge or approval of the IPL Governing Council (GC) in a deliberate attempt to restrict the number of bidders.
The two contentious clauses that were not part of the original draft approved by the GC — according to the report — called for the bidder to have ‘a net worth of US$ 1 billion’ and ‘to give a bank guarantee of Rs 460 crore’.
As it turned out only two bids were received, and upon receiving complaints from other aggrieved parties — Sahara and Dainik Jagran — the BCCI decided to scrap the tender. Jaitley was BCCI vice-president when the report was submitted and the others in the committee included Jyotiraditya Scindia and Chirayu Amin.
“While incorporating such conditions, Modi did not seek the approval of the Governing Council . The object of such unreasonable conditions was to exclude healthy competition and favour two bidders which is evident from the fact that only two bids were received pursuant to the ITT,” the report said.
In his defence, Lalit Modi backed the net worth clause by insisting that since franchises become ‘cash positive’ only in the eighth year it was crucial that they had ‘deep pockets’. “The condition of bank guarantee is sought to be justified on the ground that it ensured the stability of the IPL,” the report said.
While admitting that he had inserted the clauses, Modi claimed he had received an oral approval from then BCCI president Shashank Manohar for the two conditions. But the report concludes that “Modi had only informed the President about the changes and he did not read the onerous clauses.”
The Adani Group and Videocon didn’t respond when asked about the bid rigging.