Suspended cricketers Hardik Pandya and KL Rahul, on Monday, tendered “unconditional” apologies for their sexist comments during Koffee With Karan, a TV chat show.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India’s (BCCI) Committee of Administrators (CoA) Chairman Vinod Rai said that the board should correct the players but not end their careers.
Ten BCCI units, however, have demanded a Special General Meeting to discuss appointing an ombudsman for carrying out an inquiry. Rai’s fellow CoA member, Diana Edulji, wants CoA and the BCCI office-bearers to inquire the matter.
“Yes, Hardik and Rahul have submitted their reply to the fresh showcause notices that were served to them. They have tendered unconditional apology. The CoA chief has instructed the CEO to conduct an inquiry as per clause 41 (c) of the new BCCI constitution,” said a senior BCCI official.
Pandya and Rahul were forced to return from the Australian tour. The duo’s comments on the TV show were deemed “inappropriate” by India skipper Virat Kohli.
Edulji disagreed with Rai’s proposal for a quick inquiry. “We should be in no hurry to conduct the inquiry as it would then look like a cover up job being done,” she’d said.
Rai, in his reply to Edulji, said that the “BCCI is not in the business of ending young careers”.
“Please be assured that the desire to conduct the inquiry is not a desire to ‘cover up’. The interest of cricket in India has to be kept in mind. The off the ground act of the players was deplorable. It was crass as I said immediately after reading the comments,” Rai wrote.
“It is our responsibility to reprimand them, take corrective action, sensitise them of their misdemeanour and then get them back on to the ground once they have suffered the consequences,” he said.
“We have shamed them by recalling them from an ongoing tour. We have suspended them from further games. We need to correct them and not bring their career to a cul de sac by indefinitely delaying a decision. These misdemeanours require swift action, with a corrective approach,” he added.
Appointing an ombudsman
Rai has instructed BCCI CEO Rahul Johri to carry out a preliminary inquiry but Board members, along with Edulji, have disagreed.
Rai justified Johri intitiating the probe, citing the BCCI constitution. Edulji feels Johri, because of past allegations of sexual harassment against him, should not be entrusted with the task.
“The CEO must fulfil his duty as per Rule 41(C) and conduct the inquiry after receiving the explanation of the players. He must ensure that the norms of natural justice are fulfilled,” Rai said.
The e-mail also states that a request has been made to Supreme Court to appoint an ombudsman for the case, on advice of the legal team.
“During the 17th (January) hearing, we request the hon Court to appoint an Ombudsman. However, in the unlikely event of the Hon. Court not being able to appoint the Ombudsman in the hearing scheduled for the 17th Jan, 2019, we must go ahead and appoint an ad-hoc ombudsman as per legal advice received by us.
“The ombudsman, so appointed, can take a final view on the players based on the inquiry report submitted by the CEO,” he wrote.
Meanwhile, 10 state units have requested acting president CK Khanna for a Special General Meeting.
“It will be interesting what call Khanna will take. If I remember, he once didn’t sign the minutes of SGM fearing that it would be in violation of Supreme Court orders. On another occasion, he didn’t even attend an SGM,” a state unit member, who was present during both the meetings, said.
“There is a possibility that Khanna may instruct Amitabh Chaudhary to call a normal SGM with 21 days’ notice which a secretary is allowed to,” he added.