Does the Committee of Administrators chief Vinod Rai have veto power over his fellow members? It’s a question CoA member and former India captain Diana Edulji raised in an email, accessed by The Indian Express, after Rai overruled her on the issue of forming a committee to pick the women’s team coach.
Legal experts says the Supreme Court hasn’t endowed any such extraordinary power on the chairman while a former CoA member, historian and cricket writer Ramachandra Guha, points out that Rai might have “certain superiority” because of his position but decisions should be “made through consensus” and “he should be taking others along with him”.
Guha went on to add that the committee, that had now shrunk to two from the original four, was understaffed and lacked the domain knowledge to deal with the “complex task of cleaning up of Indian cricket”.
Supreme Court lawyer and secretary of the Lodha Committee Gopal Sankaranarayanan said that rules to resolve matters that divide the committee should have been laid down at the outset.
“Normally, if there is a veto power, that would have been laid down in advance as part of the procedures which the Committee of Administrators would follow, if that had not been done so far, the administrators would have to evolve a procedure going forward,” he told The Indian Express.
Another legal expert in the know of things said, “In companies and societies where there are such committees, veto power needs to be explicitly endowed on a chairman. If not, they all are equal and it is only for the purpose of administration that one person is named as chairman.”
Diana insists that no such understanding was reached in the days following the Supreme Court’s invitation that saw her join the committee headed by Rai which also had Guha and eminent banker Vikram Limaye. “There was no talk of veto power. The minutes of CoA meetings are there online, there is no mention,” she said.
The following email exchange between Diana and Rai show the deep differences between them and ambiguity about who has the final word on cricketing matters.
Diana writes: “To all who are marked on the mail, please desist to act on single approval of 1 CoA member. You are hereby instructed to act when both the members have given the instructions or approval. Going forward whenever one member is speaking or issuing instructions directly, it is your duty to put in on email, for record, to both the members and you can’t go ahead with instructions from only 1 CoA member.”
To which Rai replies: “I have read Diana’s mail. I have considered all aspects of the issue. In the best interest of women’s cricket as Chairman of the CoA , I reiterate my views. Rahul (Johri, BCCI CEO) and Saba (Karim, GM Cricket Operations) May please take action as instructed by me yesterday.” Subsequently, Johri and Karim would follow Rai’s instruction and send out a press release about forming of the contentious committee to pick the women’s team coach.
Guha says the biggest reason for BCCI’s perilous impasse has been the long delay in naming his and Limaye’s replacements. “My main criticism is, I resigned in June last year, which is a year and a half. Why haven’t the two places on that committee when I left not been filled? I have not been following cricket, so I said it’s not right for me to comment on what’s going on. So I have not. I don’t know whose fault it is — of Mr Rai or the court’s,” he said.
Even if the court had been slow to react, Guha thinks Rai could have been more proactive.
“Mr Rai forgot what I said then (about adding a male cricketer in the committee). At that point Rai said that only four are appointed by court but I said we can call him (male cricketer) as public invitee.”
Guha went on to add that “cleaning up of Indian cricket is complex and a major responsibility” and Rai doesn’t have enough back-up. “It’s like Virat Kohli can’t run Indian team alone. How can you run this as a solo operation, that’s the question that should have been posed to Mr Rai, someone who has absolutely no prior background in cricket. Get someone at least to consult. Say, you may be a good chairperson or a bureaucrat running the petroleum ministry but you would at least have a petroleum engineer or a chemistry professor on your committee and then take a decision.”
Guha added: “This is called arrogance of numerics. You need people around, who think differently.”