Hyd court reserves order on Azhar plea

Published: Monday, April 16, 2001, 23:53 [IST]
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Hyderabad: A city civil court here on Monday announced it would hear former Indian cricket captain Mohammed Azharuddin's application for production of certain documents by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) in connection with match-fixing allegations on April 20. Additional chief judge J Syamasundara Rao passed the order on Azharuddin's application seeking production of certain documents, including the BCCI's letter appointing former Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Joint Director K Madhavan as special commissioner to inquire into match-fixing allegations after hearing lengthy arguments from counsels representing Azharuddin and the BCCI. Banned for life from cricket for his alleged role in match-fixing, Azharuddin has challenged the ban as also Madhavan's appointment as inquiry commissioner. His counsel Jagdish urged the court to direct the BCCI to produce documents relating to Madhavan's appointment, the BCCI's resolution appointing Madhavan, the minutes of the BCCI's general body meeting amending the rules for Madhavan's appointment and a copy of Madhavan's report on match-fixing. Appearing on BCCI's behalf, the Additional Advocate General of Andhra Pradesh, Ramesh Ranganathan, argued that the documents were not relevant at this stage of the case. The court is yet to start arguments on three interlocutory applications (IAs) filed by Azharuddin seeking an interim stay of BCCI's life ban order on him. The hearing on the main suit, filed by him in January, is not likely to start before June 1, when the court resumes its sitting after a month-long vacation. The fourth IA filed by Azharuddin on March 7 had asked the court to direct all three respondents - BCCI, Madhavan and BCCI president A C Muthiah - to produce certain documents. Quoting extensively from Supreme Court and high court judgments, counsel for both Azharuddin and for BCCI argued the matter. Jagdish said authenticated copies of these documents were necessary for him to make a prima facie case that Madhavan's appointment was illegal. He said BCCI had appointed Madhavan even before amending the rules for his appointment. While Madhavan was appointed as inquiry commissioner on August 29, 2000, the rules were amended a month later. "Unless I have the copies of these documents I can't question Madhavan's appointment and his report," he told the judge. Ranganathan said Azharuddin's counsel was embarking on "fishing inquiry" by seeking documents that were not relevant at this stage. He said the amended rules had not been challenged and hence, seeking production of a resolution passed at the BCCI meeting was unnecessary. Responding to a demand for producing Madhavan's report, he pointed out that in BCCI's disciplinary committee meeting on November 28, 2000, Azharuddin had answered in the affirmative when asked whether he was aware of the contents of the CBI's and Madhavan's reports. He said the former Indian captain had never sought a copy and added that copies of some of the documents had already been produced. Azharuddin was banned by the BCCI after he and four Indian Test players - Ajay Jadeja, Ajay Sharma, Manoj Prabhakar and Nayan Mongia - were named in a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) report on cricket match-fixing last year. Mongia was subsequently exonerated. Azharuddin, the most successful Indian captain since the country made its debut in international cricket in 1932, had filed a suit on January 29, challenging the BCCI ban imposed on him. Having played 99 Tests and over 300 One-day Internationals for the country, he has called upon the court to declare the life ban on him as "null and void." All four players against whom the BCCI took action have denied any wrongdoing.

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