Ombudsman gives BCCI media manager clean chit

Niraj Gunde had charged Nishant Arora with conflict citing his previous association with Harbhajan Singh and Yuvraj Singh as their ‘agent.

Written by Bharat Sundaresan | Mumbai | Updated: March 1, 2016 11:41 am

THE INDIAN cricket team’s media manager, Nishant Arora, has received a clean chit from BCCI ombudsman Justice AP Shah over conflict of interest allegations levelled against him. Shah has also dismissed charges against Arora’s wife, who was alleged to be the director of a company having commercial interests with the Indian cricket board.
In his complaint filed on January 19, Niraj Gunde had charged Arora with conflict citing his previous association with national cricketers Harbhajan Singh and Yuvraj Singh — presently with the Indian team for the Asia Cup in Bangladesh — as their ‘agent’. But the ombudsman has found that the charges against the media manager “cannot be an issue of consideration”.

“The applicant alleges that Mr Arora was formerly an agent/manager of cricketers Harbhajan Singh and Yuvraj Singh. The ombudsman notes that first allegation, of Mr Arora’s former associations with cricketers, cannot be an issue of consideration, and is therefore dismissed outright,” the ombudsman writes in his order that has been accessed by The Indian Express.

Gunde had also brought up the alleged commercial links between Arora’s wife, who he claimed to be a director of Final Score Management Pvt. Ltd. This company was allegedly associated with cricket academies linked to Harbhajan and Yuvraj and had also opened a centre on the grounds of the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association, which is an ‘affiliated unit of the BCCI’. But the ombudsman has cited the replies sent by Arora to be convinced that his wife is not a director with Final Score.

“On the second allegation of Mr Arora’s wife’s commercial relationship with Final Score, from Mr Arora’s reply, received on 11 February, 2016, it is clear that Mr Arora’s wife does not hold any directorial post at Final Score. Mr Arora also informs the Ombudsman that his mother is no longer a director in that company, although the applicant had made no allegations in this regard. It also appears that all shares owned by Mr Arora, his wife and his mother, in Final Score, were liquidated in December 2015, before this application was made by the Ombudsman,” Shah writes.
While ‘disposing’ of the complaint and clearing the media manager of all ‘conflict’ allegations, the ombudsman writes about ‘offering an opportunity’ to the complainant to counter Arora’s ‘claims’. “The applicant, Mr Gunde, was offered an opportunity to respond to Mr Arora’s reply, but no further response was received. It is evident that Mr Arora’s claims are not contradicted stands, and is therefore, disposed of,” the order reads.

Selector Rathour cleared

NATIONAL SELECTOR Vikram Rathour has been cleared of conflict of interest allegations that were levied against him citing his UK citizenship as being in ‘conflict’ with his role of selecting players for the Indian cricket team. In his order passed on Monday, ombudsman AP Shah writes that he does not agree with complainant Niraj Gunde’s ‘contentions’ and finds ‘no rule pertaining to conflict of interest’ being attracted in this case.

“Mr Rathour, in his response, admits to being an Overseas Citizen of India (OCI). He also points out that there is no bar under law, being an OCI card-holder, from working with or for any organisation other than the government of India. He also draws attention to there being nothing in BCCI’s constitution that requires a person to be an Indian passport holder to work as a selector for a BCCI team,” he writes.

Shah then brings up Gunde’s response, in which the complainant claimed that the ‘selector’s position demands that it be filled by a person who has only national interest at heart’ and that since the ‘conflict is apparent’, there was no requirement to have any rules to prescribe a bar on the selector’s nationality. But the ombudsman dismisses these claims.

“The Ombudsman does not agree with the applicant’s contentions. There is no bar, in law or in the memorandum of association of the BCCI, to Mr Rathour’s association with the BCCI as a selector, by virtue of his holding an OCI card. The Ombudsman also does not accept the argument that conflict of interest is apparent in such a case. In sum, no rule pertaining to conflict of interest is attracted, nor is any case of conflict of interest demonstrated. The application is therefore disposed of,” he writes. – ENS

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