If you thought the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) was in better hands when court took the reigns from Narayanswami Srinivasan and Co and handed it over to Committee of Administrators (CoA), you were grossly mistaken. Nothing has changed, except for the fact that previously the BCCI was run by a group of officials in a democratic set-up, which has completely gone for a toss in the CoA regime, headed by former CAG Vinod Rai.
When the sexual harassment allegations against BCCI’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Rahul Johri came to light, CoA ordered an enquiry. But, nothing came out of the enquiry and Johri was cleared at the drop of a hat despite reservations from the member/s of the enquiry panel. This has enraged many who are connected closely to the game. Moreover, the observations which found Johri in a spot were not made public by the CoA. This has enraged the cricket fraternity.
“The sexual harassment charges against the BCCI CEO weren’t probed properly. This was no investigation at all. How could you investigate the matter with Rahul Johri still in his position? He should have stepped down first to ensure proper enquiry. This was nothing short of a farce,” a senior official, who has held several portfolios in BCCI in past, told The Live Mirror in an exclusive chat.
The official vented his ire on the whole issue saying there’s no existence of BCCI at the moment as it’s a one-man show. “All the members have been suspended and there’s none to raise voice on anything. The Supreme Court should take cognisance of the matter immediately and take a call for the betterment of the game in the country,” the official said.
Panel wasn’t judicial one
Talking about the probe panel, the official felt that this committee wasn’t empowered to do anything on the matter and that it was just an eye-wash. “This committee is not a judicial committee. So how can they prove the charges? In our times, whenever these sort of indiscipline came to fore, we used to refer to the disciplinary committee and at the same time the accused would remain suspended pending inquiry. In this case no procedure was followed,” the BCCI official said on the condition of anonymity.
Taking pot-shots at the CoA chief Vinod Rai, the official said, “it’s a shameful incident by the CoA,” he signed off.
It may be recalled that allegations against CEO Rahul Johri surfaced when a woman shared her ordeal involving an unnamed person, who was apparently a colleague of Johri during his stint with Discovery Channel. Though the BCCI, who alleged Johri of indiscipline, had stayed away from testifying while two other women — media professionals — deposed in the case before the probe panel.
The investigation panel comprised former judge of Allahabad High Court Justice Rakesh Sharma, Barkha Singh, former chairperson of Delhi Commission for Women and women’s rights advocate Veena Gowda.
According to sources, the CoA had difference of opinion from the very beginning when the matter surfaced. It was CoA member and former India women’s Test player Diana Edulji wanted Johri to resign while Vinod Rai thought otherwise and the CEO was allowed to continue.
Also, former Mumbai captain Shishir Hattangadi, who deposed before the probe panel regarding the matter, termed this investigation “baseless and have been fabricated and manufactured” in a section of media.