Just when it seemed things were looking bright for the Indian Premier League after the successful conduct of its players' auction earlier this month, another major controversy seems to have erupted.
The legality of the auction has now come under a question mark after Mumbai Indians shot off a letter to the IPL Governing Council members seeking an explanation on why last minute changes were made to the rules of the Players' auction, held in Bangalore, on January 8 and 9.
In a strongly-worded letter, a copy of which is available with Rediff.com, executive director Reliance Industries Nikhil Meswani asked the organisers to explain why the rules were amended at the last minute and also the minutes of the IPL where the rules were approved.
"This amendment resulted in a fundamental change to the Auction process and 'selection of sets at random' was substituted by a pre-decided 'order of the Auction list' for the 2011 Auction," Meswani states in the letter.
The letter adds: "The primary purpose of deciding the order of auction (whether of subsequent sets or the Players within the sets) through random draw in the Auction Room in presence of the bidders is to ensure transparency and a level playing field to all the Franchisees so that all the Franchisees are not only privy to the process but also treated in the same manner and no particular team receives preferred treatment.
"Any change in the Auction Rules process or procedure in this manner on the very last minute can have any justification if, and only if, strong justifiable and emergent reasons can be demonstrated to be present. We see a complete absence of such reason or justification. Kindly let us know as to why and to whose instance ths change was introduced."
The Mukesh Ambani-owned franchise has asked the IPL to provide them:
a) Agenda note and agenda of the meeting of the IPL Governing Council at which the IPL Auction briefing - 17th December 2010 was approved;
b) The quorum and the minutes of the meeting of the IPL Governing Council at which the IPL Auction Briefing - 17th December 2010 was approved;
c) Agenda note, if any, containing justification for the change in the presentation of the sets from "random selection of sets at the Auction room" to a pre-determined "order of the Auction List" sets;
d) The quorum and minutes of the meeting when the change to rule 18 was approved;
e) The basis, if any, on which the players with the same specialism were grouped in groups such as BA1, BA2, BA3, ... AR1, AR2... etc.
f) Agenda note, if any, containing rationale and basis for the order of sets as was contained in the Auction List;
g) The decision making process, quorum and minutes of the meeting where the order of sets as contained in the Auction List (according to which order the auction was conducted) was approved;
h) The basis, if any, on which the order of sets in the Auction List was determined;
i) Rules and bye-laws of IPL relating to amendment of Auction procedures;
j) The body authorized to amend the Auction Rules and the source of such authority.