Former IPL Czar Lalit Modi says he is ready for a new beginning

Controversial Indian Premier League founder Lalit Modi claims Interpol has rejected India’s request for a red corner notice to enable his extradition

Photo by Vijayanand Gupta/Hindustan Times via Getty Images
Photo by Vijayanand Gupta/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

NH National Bureau

Hardly a fortnight before the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2017 takes off, its controversial founder Lalit K Modi claimed on social media that the Interpol has rejected India’s request for a red corner notice to enable his extradition.

“The sword that was hanging over my head had suddenly gone… It's been six years, nine months and 12 days to this day and now (I am) ready for a new beginning,” he said on Instagram. Modi has also tweeted a link to the Instagram post.

The purported Interpol notice dated March 24, 2017 that he posted on social media said that “as of today” Modi was “not subject to an Interpol Red Alert notice or diffusion and not known in Interpol’s database.” Further adding that Interpol was “aware that in the past the individual was subject of data recorded in Interpol’s databases, yet the data was later cancelled.”

According to Interpol’s website, Red Notice is a request to locate and provisionally arrest an individual pending extradition. It is issued by the General Secretariat at the request of a member country or an international tribunal based on a valid national arrest warrant.

Modi, who is facing various corruption cases in India, had fled the country in 2010. His passport was revoked over an Enforcement Directorate (ED) complaint (the passport was later restored by the Delhi High Court). The ED had further got a Blue Corner Interpol notice issued against Modi for violations of the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) regulations when he was the IPL chief. A Blue Notice is to collect additional information about a person’s identity, location or activities in relation to a crime.

Modi’s rivalry with then BCCI chief N Srinivasan has been no secret too. The cricket body in October 2010 had filed a complaint with the Chennai police alleging misappropriation of funds during IPL events, to the tune of ₹468 crore.

Also, a 134-page report prepared by a disciplinary committee consisting of senior Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) functionaries—(current Union Finance Minister) Arun Jaitley, Chirayu Amin and Jyotiraditya Scindia—had indicted Modi of eight charges of financial improprieties. BCCI imposed a life-time ban on him subsequently in 2013.

Modi, however, had alleged that Jaitley was biased against him as he was a "strongest supporter" of N Srinivasan.

It may be interesting to see how the Red Notice waiver will have a political spillout. Lalit Modi is considered to be close to Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje. In fact, both his stints—including the current one—as President of Rajasthan Cricket Association have been during her two tenures as CM.

In 2015, a special court issued a non-bailable warrant against Lalit Modi for not responding to the ED summons, after a huge outcry over External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s family links to Modi. Swaraj had admitted to helping Modi with ‘urgent travel papers’ in Britain over ‘humanitarian’ grounds. Also, another row was over a document that allegedly shows Raje secretly supporting his bid to obtain UK immigration papers in 2011.

Some political observers felt that all these controversies perhaps had undercurrents of internal BJP joustings. Sushma Swaraj had been a reluctant supporter of Narendra Modi as BJP’s prime ministerial candidate. Though Rajasthan saw a BJP clean sweep in 2014 elections, apparently Raje had not credited it to the ‘Modi wave’. Soon, surprisingly, the issue lost media attention.

However, with the ED arrest notice still against him in India, it would be interesting to know whether Modi would take the risk of making a trip to India. Would the ED notice be withdrawn? Anything is possible for the rich and the mighty in the country.

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