Updated: June 21, 2015 12:06:02 pm
Four months before links between Lalit Modi and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj emerged from leaked emails, the Law Ministry was aware that the former IPL chief’s online correspondence may have been breached.
Documents examined by The Sunday Express show that the ministry had received a complaint on February 11 from a self-styled whistleblower who alleged that emails purportedly sent by Modi showed a “nexus” between him and officials, including from Mumbai Police, to allegedly influence the judicial process related to a case against his rival and then BCCI chief N Srinivasan.
On May 20, the Law Ministry forwarded Neeraj Gunde’s complaint to the Principal Private Secretary of the Chief Justice of India for “action as appropriate”.
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Gunde alleged in his complaint that the purported emails “expose the fact” that Arup Patnaik, Mumbai’s former police commissioner, and Ranjib Biswal, who was the IPL chief last year, “brokered the deal to unseat Mr Srinivasan…”
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When contacted, Patnaik, who was Mumbai’s police chief from February 2011 to August 2012, said: “I have never interacted with Lalit Modi. I know of Ranjib Biswal but he is not an acquaintance. I categorically deny having any association with Modi, leave alone the question of interceding on his behalf.”
Biswal said: “I have not spoken to Modi since the time he left India in 2010. There has been no association with him whatsoever.” The purported emails cited in Gunde’s complaint do not include those related to Modi and Swaraj.
On June 14, The Sunday Times cited leaked correspondence involving Modi and British MP Keith Vaz to reveal that Swaraj had helped London-based Modi obtain travel papers to visit Portugal to be with his ill wife. At the time, Modi’s Indian passport had been revoked, and he was facing a number of investigations initiated by the Enforcement Directorate.
When contacted, Gunde refused to comment on the allegations in his complaint but said that “the fact that the Law Ministry had referred the matter to the Chief Justice of India proves that the ministry found my complaint warranted investigation”.
Law Minister Sadananda Gowda, who was in Bangalore for the Yoga Day celebrations, said he could not “recall this complaint”. “I can speak about it only once I am back in Delhi,” Gowda told The Sunday Express.
This is not the first time that Gunde’s name has figured in the bitter power struggle within the BCCI over the last few years with Srinivasan on one side and a number of cricket officials, including current secretary Anurag Thakur, on the other.
In May, Thakur had alleged that Gunde, whom he described as “a friend of Srinivasan”, was behind a complaint to the ICC about his alleged links with Chandigarh-based businessman Karan Gilhotra, who was on the governing body’s Anti-Corruption Unit watch list. The ICC is being headed by Srinivasan.
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