Hardik Pandya, KL Rahul could face more heat as BCCI legal team suggests appointment of Ombudsman to start enquiry

India all-rounder Hardik Pandya could be in deep trouble due to his appearance and comments on the show Koffee with Karan as per the legal team of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). With the Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA) co-member Diana Edulji and office bearers asking for a legal opinion on how to deal with the behaviour of Pandya and opener KL Rahul, the legal team has sent in the due process which gives the option of suspension of the players pending enquiry — that can be completed within a period of 6 months.

In the letter, accessed by Hindustan Times, the legal team has also asked for an immediate appointment of an Ombudsman since the board doesn’t have one at present.

“Considering that the BCCI at present does not have an Ombudsman, the COA, in our view, will be justified in and entitled to appoint an ad hoc ombudsman with a defined specific mandate of adjudicating on the present matter. The Ad hoc Ombudsman should possess the qualifications required for an Ombudsman under Rule 40(1) of the BCCI constitution.

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“Thereafter, the Ad hoc Ombudsman should adjudicate on the matter in the manner as prescribed in the BCCI constitution,” the letter reads.

Speaking to Hindustan Times a senior board functionary questioned why the office bearers had been kept away from the whole process as they continue by virtue of an order of the SC.

“The suggestion to appoint an ad-hoc Ombudsman smacks of bias and pliability to cater to Vinod Rai. The CoA can ask the BCCI to appoint an Ombudsman at this stage by calling a General Meeting. Why are they keen to avoid that? Do they want to appoint someone that suits Vinod Rai? Is he interested in a particular appointment? Will it be like the ad-hoc committee he himself had constituted which originally had people he was personally acquainted with? Why do they want to avoid a democratic process ?

“Why does their view exclude even the office bearers who continue by virtue of an order of the Court from their version of the Apex Council? Surely they understand that the administration of BCCI cannot be at the whims and fancies of an individual, especially one over 70 years of age,” he said.

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With the process that is to be followed, the legal team has said: “In terms of Rule 41(6), considering that the inquiry process against the concerned players has commenced and is pending, it is open for the COA to suspend the concerned players (along with their privileges and benefits) pending enquiry and proceeding into the charges of misconduct until final adjudication. The suspension will however cease if the said adjudication is not completed within 6 months.”

Another BCCI official also questioned if this legal opinion also means that the case of CEO Rahul Johri wasn’t handled properly by the CoA.

“This procedure as recommended by the legal team also raises a very serious issue of great importance. This means that the supposed clean chit given to Johri was not at all according to the procedure laid down under the constitution and which means that someone grossly violated the Supreme Court mandated constitution just so that the Johri #MeToo situation could be managed.

“This view of legal means that the semi-clean chit given to Johri is of no value and he presently stands tainted amd must undergo the procedure established essentially by the Supreme Court as well,” he opined.

Interestingly, the present issue doesn’t fall under the Code of Conduct of the BCCI as per the legal team.

“We have gone through the Code of Conduct which also lays down a procedure for dealing with acts of misconduct on the part of players. We feel that the present matter does not fall within the ambit of the Code of Conduct and the procedure laid down in the Code of Conduct should not be invoked in the present circumstances because – (i) the Code of Conduct primarily relates to on-field offences and only those off-field offences which pertain to criticisms of any incidents occurred in a match or against another player, team, support personnel, match official or the like; and (ii) in any case the procedure stipulated in the BCCI Constitution would have primacy over the procedure set out under the Code of Conduct,” the team wrote.

First Published: Jan 11, 2019 10:24 IST

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