The BCCI has suspended all-rounder Hardik Pandya and opener KL Rahul pending an inquiry into their “misconduct” after their controversial comments on Koffee with Karan. The duo will be sent back home, which rules them out of the three-match ODI series in Australia, and the subsequent tour to New Zealand.
The Committee of Administrators (CoA) sent fresh show-cause notices (separately) to the players on Friday evening, informing them about their suspension, “with immediate effect”, and debarring them from playing/participating in any BCCI, ICC and/or state association tournament/event until the final adjudication of the matter.
“You are aware that enquiry and proceedings against you for misconduct and indiscipline have been initiated under Rule 41 of the BCCI Constitution and the same are presently pending.” “In terms of Rule 41(6) of the BCCI Constitution, you are hereby suspended with immediate effect from participating in any manner whatsoever in any match or function or event or activity that is authorized, organized, sanctioned, recognized or supported in any way by the BCCI, the ICC or any State Association, until final adjudication of the matter,” the CoA communications to Pandya and Rahul said.
The decision to suspend the players was taken after the CoA member Diana Edulji consulted the BCCI’s legal team.The legal team added that the CoA would be “justified in and entitled to” appoint an ad-hoc ombudsman, “with a defined specific mandate of adjudicating on the present matter”.
The BCCI presently doesn’t have an ombudsman. Edulji recommended that Pandya and Rahul be put under suspension. On Thursday, CoA chief Vinod Rai had recommended a two-game ban for both players, subject to Edulji’s approval, for their comments which were widely seen as misogynistic. “It will be imperative that the players be put under suspension till a further course of action is decided for this misconduct as was done in the case of CEO (Rahul Johri) when he was sent on leave in the sexual harassment matter,” Edulji wrote in her email on Friday morning.
She added: “Based on the legal opinion and till the time the final procedure is laid down to address this issue, will recommend that a communication be sent to the concerned players and the team immediately.”
BCCI secretary Amitabh Choudhary agreed to this, saying: “I am in complete agreement with the views expressed by Ma’am Eduljee (Edulji).”
Recommendations received from the BCCI legal team said: “In terms of Rule 41(6), considering that the inquiry process against the concerned players has commenced and is pending, it is open for the COA to suspend the concerned players (along with their privileges and benefits) pending enquiry and proceeding into the charges of misconduct until final adjudication. The suspension will, however, cease if the said adjudication is not completed within 6 months.”
The legal team also advised that the BCCI chief executive, Johri, issued fresh communications/show-cause notices to the players, as the notices sent on January 9 didn’t have the specifications that those were issued under Rule 41 of the BCCI Constitution and an inquiry against Pandya and Rahul has commenced.
As per the BCCI Player Agreements, “The Player shall not engage with the media during the Term on any matter related to the BCCI or the Matches without first obtaining written approval from the BCCI.”
Asked if Pandya and Rahul had written approval to appear on the talk show, a senior cricket board official said: “None. They had no permission.” Also, the BCCI Player Agreements defines “gross misconduct” as, “Any conduct which may bring disrepute to the game of cricket and/or the BCCI including the Office Bearers of the BCCI.”
Not only the BCCI, during the pre-match press conference at the SCG today, India captain Virat Kohli, too, made it clear that the comments made by Pandya and Rahul on the talk show were “inappropriate”.
Earlier, BCCI treasurer Anirudh Chaudhry has urged that the national selectors be directed to drop Pandya and Rahul from the Indian ODI squad and name their replacements, “if needed”, immediately. “The selectors ought to be directed to select their replacements immediately if needed, since the squad size is presently about 19,” Chaudhry wrote in his email.