The Committee of Administrators (CoA) has asked former India captain Rahul Dravid, the current National Cricket Academy head of cricket, to call a joint meeting with the Supreme Court-appointed Committee and former India cricketers to discuss ‘conflict-of-interest’ rules.
The conflict-of interest rule has had a major impact on cricketers who are holding multiple positions. The Lodha Committee recommendation, ‘one-person-one-post’, was accepted by the Supreme Court and subsequently drafted into the new BCCI constitution.
The decision to call a joint meeting has come after the BCCI ombudsman-cum-ethics officer Justice (Retd) DK Jain found Sourav Ganguly and VVS Laxman in positions of conflict, stressing upon the ‘one-person-one-post’ rule in his orders.
Sachin Tendulkar was cleared, as he recused himself from the BCCI’s Cricket Advisory Committee (CAC). A few days ago, the ethics officer sent a notice to Dravid, asking him to respond, after he took cognizance of the ‘conflict-of-interest’ complaint filed by Madhya Pradesh Cricket Association member Sanjeev Gupta. The latter has also filed conflict-of-interest complaints against ad-hoc CAC members – appointed to pick the head coach of the Indian team – Kapil Dev, Anshuman Gaekwad and Shantha Rangaswamy.
“The CoA wants every top cricketer’s view on conflict of interest, as players are the most affected by this clause. Dravid has been given the charge to call former cricketers and discuss about this. After hearing everyone, the CoA will file its report and submit it to the amicus curiae, PS Narasimha. The amicus will place it before the Supreme Court. Clarity needs to be sought on this,” a BCCI official told The Indian Express.
It is also learnt that the CoA headed by Vinod Rai has decided that henceforth if any complaint is received with regards to conflict-of-interest charges, the BCCI’s legal team will appear before the ethics officer instead of the person/party against whom the complaint is filed.
The decision was taken keeping in mind the complaints filed against Dravid and the ad-hoc CAC members. Before making appointments, the BCCI ensures that an individual submits a ‘no-conflict’ declaration. If an individual has disclosed everything and still a complaint is received, it will be the BCCI’s responsibility to defend the person before the ethics officer.
“Once an individual has disclosed everything on the declaration form, then in the BCCI’s view he/she is not conflicted. In Dravid’s case, he disclosed everything, that he was part of India Cements. If he hadn’t done that, then he would have come under the conflict-of-interest ambit. It is decided that in the future, after any appointment, if a complaint comes against any individual, it will be dealt by the BCCI. For us, disclosure is the antidote to conflict of interest,” a top BCCI official told this paper.
A former India captain has already taken a jibe at the ‘proliferation’ of conflict-of-interest complaints. “New fashion in indian cricket …..conflict of interest ….Best way to remain in news …god help indian cricket ……Dravid Gets Conflict of Interest Notice from BCCI Ethics Officer,” Sourav Ganguly tweeted a week ago. Harbhajan Singh concurred.
Even the CoA feels that the conflict-of-interest clause is “rigid” to the extent that if it is implemented, around 20 Indian commentators will be out of reckoning and the BCCI will have no option but to hire former players from overseas.
“The CoA thinks that it (the order) is very rigid; the interpretation of a commentator. Commentators are commentators, being used by the BCCI. Somebody is doing vernacular commentary, somebody is with Star, some other player is writing for vernacular papers. In this way, the CoA has to dump 20 of our own people and hire Ricky Ponting, for example, or somebody else from overseas,” a source close to the CoA told The Indian Express.
Ganguly and Laxman have been found by Justice Jain to be in conflict of interest because of their roles as commentators and the positions they hold in Indian cricket. Ganguly and Laxman are members of the BCCI’s (erstwhile) CAC alongside their posts with IPL franchises Delhi Capitals and Sunrisers Hyderabad respectively. Ganguly is also the president of the Cricket Association of Bengal.