Suspended IPL Commissioner Lalit Modi will have to face the music if he is found guilty of corruption, according to ICC President Sharad Pawar who on Sunday made it clear that there was no question of "protecting" his one-time protege.
Pawar said the recent corruption scandal has tarnished the image of IPL to some extent and Modi was paying the price for his controversial style of functioning, which had not gone down well with the BCCI's top brass.
Asked specifically if he would protect Modi in case he is found guilty of financial irregularities in running the IPL, Pawar said: "No question of protecting anybody. Not only Modi but anybody. If somebody has committed some mistake he will have to face the music".
Pawar, who took over as ICC President from Englishman David Morgan earlier this month, said Modi should be given credit for making IPL a global brand but his style of functioning was the problem.
"IPL, the product has been a success in this country. It has established that India can also organise such things and there he (Modi) has taken lots of pain there is no two opinion about that. If somebody has contributed one has also to accept that contribution," he told Karan Thapar in 'Devil's Advocate' programme on CNN-IBN.
"But his style of functioning has become controversial and the present Board feels they should go in-depth (probe). The Board has deputed a committee and let us see what is the outcome. From what I know of BCCI it will take an appropriate decision and take steps to improve their functioning and image," Pawar pointed out.
Asked whether Modi has been treated fairly by the BCCI, Pawar said, "I am confident that he has to be given a fair trial. But I can't interfere either way."
The former BCCI chief denied that he was supporting Modi in the IPL scandal.
"All of us - myself, Modi and Manohar - have worked together as a group and have contributed something. But the present set-up feels something has gone wrong. So until these (wrongdoings) are not established, it is not proper for me to support or oppose one against the other. Basically I am keeping away from all this," said Pawar, who is also the Union Agriculture Minister.
He said even if the BCCI fails to take satisfactory steps to clear the IPL mess, the ICC cannot interfere as it relates to a domestic tournament.
"Under its constitution, ICC has no authority to interfere in functioning of any member country. ICC will not interfere in their domestic tournaments," he said. Pawar admitted that allegations of financial irregularities against Modi have sullied the image of IPL to some extent.
"I don't think IPL's overall position will be damaged. But definitely in the mind of cricket-loving people within India and outside they have started thinking in a different way that there seems to be some wrong things happening," he said.
Pawar also refused to term the current controversy as a scandal and said the BCCI will get to the bottom of it.
"I don't think we have come to the conclusion (that it is a scandal). There is difference between allegation and a scandal. One has to see how far these allegations are correct and BCCI is going into details and they will definitely come to a conclusion and then we can say something," he said.
Pawar also sought to justify the conflict of interest involved in the IPL with Board Secretary N Srinivasan owning the IPL side Chennai Super Kings, saying the General Body of BCCI had given the permission when he was the president.
"This particular subject was discussed at length at BCCI GBM. BCCI decided that IPL was a club-level tournament and the rules applicable to club level tournaments are different from those of major meets. So the BCCI passed a resolution and authorised that office bearers can own and set up teams. That was a collective and unanimous decision of the BCCI.
"Once a decision was approved by the GBM unanimously it became a policy decision," he said.
On whether he would advice the BCCI to revisit the decision to allow office bearers own IPL teams in the face of public criticism, he said, "That is the prerogative of BCCI, I can't comment on that. That would be an internal decision of BCCI. I am now wearing a different hat," said Pawar.
He termed media reports that either he or his family members own stakes in the companies whose bids for two new IPL teams failed early this year as efforts to malign him.
"That was a publicity campaign to malign me. Beyond that there is nothing. Simple thing is if I was interested (to own a team) there was no objection as per BCCI rule. Secondly, I think I have some sort of prestige in that organisation (BCCI) where I was interested others would not have come forward," he said when asked if the reports damaged his reputation.
"People don't know facts and when newspapers carry front page stories people think what is this," he said.