Published: October 28, 2018 10:08:35 am
The BCCI acting secretary Amitabh Choudhary has accused the Committee of Administrators (CoA) of handling the alleged sexual harassment case involving the cricket board CEO Rahul Johri in a “cavalier” manner. In an email to the Supreme Court-appointed panel, accessed by this paper, Choudhary also said the CoA chairman, Vinod Rai, has “no power” to “prevail over” the views of his fellow Committee member.
The CoA has formed a three-member independent committee comprising Justice (Retd.) Rakesh Sharma, former chairperson, Delhi Commission for Women, Barkha Singh, and former CBI director, PC Sharma, to inquire into the allegations against Johri and submit its report within 15 days. This is despite the fact that CoA member Diana Edulji wanted Johri out.
“Media reports leave none in doubt that the issue regarding the matter of sexual harassment has been dealt with in the most cavalier manner. And if there had indeed remained any doubt about it, the same was removed with the media release of late the night before last, strangely sent out after much of India gone to sleep.
“From the beginning, actions of COA did not inspire confidence, beginning with the fact that it took upon itself the task of adjudicating the matter when the matter should have justifiably been referred to an independent panel, duly constituted. And then days of inaction upon the submission of the so called explanation, ostensibly trying to take a view in the matter,” the BCCI acting secretary wrote in his email.
Edulji, in an interview with The Sunday Express on Friday, had stuck to her call to remove the BCCI chief executive. “As a woman in the CoA, it was my moral duty to ask for the resignation because my women’s team is there, my women support staff is there, and there are women staff working in BCCI. He (Johri) will roam around freely in the office. What message are we sending to these girls? How can I sit in the meeting with him? I can’t look in his eyes. You can’t say now he can’t sit in the meeting, then how will CoA work? After all, our main goal is to implement the Lodha recommendations,” the former India women’s team captain had said.
The acting secretary, in his email, has mentioned that the CoA chairman, Rai, doesn’t enjoy any “superior” power. “The Committee of Administrators was constituted by the Hon’ble Supreme Court as a four-member body and one of the members of the said committee was made the chairman to convene its meetings and preside over them. The position of the Chairman was only that of first among equals and no additional or superior powers had or have been conferred upon the Chairman by the Hon’ble Supreme Court.
“Presently, the committee comprises two members and both members are equal in status for all purposes. That being so, the learned Chairman has no power or authority to prevail over the views of the other esteemed member and take decisions unilaterally on behalf of the CoA or on behalf of the BCCI,” Choudhary wrote, questioning the process to appoint the three-member independent panel and suggesting that the matter should be referred either to the apex court or the BCCI general body.
“In view of the clear divergence of views of the two members of the COA, the only recourse available was to refer the issue to either the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India or to the General Body. Interestingly, two of this three-member enquiry committee are disqualified in terms of the limitation of 70 years of age, laid down by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in its order dated 09.08.2018.”