LAST MONTH, when two new IPL franchises were unveiled, BCCI president Shashank Manohar dismissed charges of any conflict of interest on the part of former India captain Sourav Ganguly. The question arose as Ganguly is an IPL governing council member and co-owner of a football team in the Indian Super League (ISL) with Sanjiv Goenka, who made a successful bid for the Pune franchise.
But the R M Lodha committee, which submitted its report earlier this week, has interpreted this as an “indirect conflict of interest”. While the report does not name anyone, it has listed several examples of “conflict of interest” which mirror actual cases involving a number of administrators and cricketers.
It is learnt that 70 per cent of the illustrations are either loosely or fully based on real-life cases that the BCCI had to deal with over the last few years. Some of these are rather obvious, while others are not so well-known.
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Consider these examples listed in the report:
* “C is a member of the IPL governing council. The IPL enters into a contract with a new franchisee, the managing director of which is C’s partner in an independent commercial venture. C is hit by indirect conflict of interest.”
This seems to illustrate the Ganguly case. “I think a lot of people are not understanding what conflict of interest means,” Manohar had said while defending Ganguly in December.
* “A is president of the BCCI. Prior to his taking office, he has been engaged professionally for his services by a firm B. After A becomes president, B is appointed as the official consultant of the BCCI.”
A couple of examples like this one seem to make vague references to recent events in the BCCI. After taking over as BCCI president for a second term, Manohar, a practicing lawyer, disbanded the in-house legal panel and appointed an in-house lawyer, who now represents a leading legal firm.
When contacted, he denied any conflict of interest. “I don’t see there being any conflict of interest. I have never appeared for Amarchand & Mangaldas in any of their cases nor have I been briefed by them,” he told The Indian Express.
* “F is president of BCCI. His son-in-law is a team official of a frachise. F is hit by conflict of interest.”
This seems an obvious reference to former BCCI president N Srinivasan, whose son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan was proved to be a team official of the Chennai Super Kings (CSK). The franchise and his son-in-law were suspended by the IPL.
* “D is a team captain. He is also co-owner of a sports management agency which is contracted to manage other team members. D is hit by conflict of interest.”
This seems to be a reference to skipper M S Dhoni and his links to Rhiti Sports, a sports management company which had signed up a number of players who were playing for India.
* “A is a selector. His son is in the zone of consideration for selection. A is hit by conflict of interest.”
Roger and Stuart Binny were in that position, before the former was replaced in the panel.
* “A is the coach of a team. He is also coach of an IPL franchise. A is hit by conflict of interest.”
Vijay Dahiya coaches both the Delhi Ranji team as well as Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR).
* “B is a BCCI commentator. He also runs a sports management company which contracts members of the team. B is hit by conflict of interest.”
Former India captain Sunil Gavaskar is a founder of Professional Management Group (PMG) which manages the likes of Virender Sehwag.
* “E is a member of the IPL governing council. He is engaged by a cricket broadcaster to act as an IPL commentator. E is hit by conflict of interest.”
Ravi Shastri has found himself in the dual role of governing council member and commentator.
* The list also includes some examples that are not so obvious.
“B is the secretary of a state association. Prior to his election, he ran a firm C, specialising in electronic boundary hoardings. Upon becoming secretary, the contract for the association’s stadium hoardings is granted to C.”
Brijesh Patel is the secretary of the Karnataka State Cricket Association (KSCA) and also runs a company that makes electronic advertisement hoardings. But the former India batsman claimed there was no connection between his two interests. “My company makes electronic advertisement hoardings. But it is not associated with the KSCA or RCB in any way,” he said.
The Lodha report has ensured that there is no ambiguity when it comes to identifying or understanding conflict of interest, breaking down the issue into various forms, like direct/ indirect, prior relationships, position of influence, and drawing a clear distinction between tractable and intractable conflicts.
While the committee has acknowledged the steps that Manohar has adopted since taking over for his second term, it makes it very clear that the proposals, though “in the right direction”, are neither “comprehensive” nor “substantive”. “The need of the hour is not cosmetic but fundamental change,” it says.