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CoA suggests dilution of ‘conflict’ clause

A wide number of former players, including Kapil Dev, Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman, Rahul Dravid and BCCI president-elect Sourav Ganguly were found to be in violation of the conflict of interest clause in the last few months.

Written by Devendra Pandey | Mumbai |
Updated: October 16, 2019 9:34:01 am
Players will, however, have to make full disclosures at the outset, after which relaxations can be granted and they may be allowed to hold multiple posts.

The Committee of Administrators (CoA) has suggested the much-debated ‘conflict of interest’ clause in the new BCCI constitution be amended as it feels that it is “proving counter-effective and disproportionately restrictive to players — both current as well as former”. Players will, however, have to make full disclosures at the outset, after which relaxations can be granted and they may be allowed to hold multiple posts.

A wide number of former players, including Kapil Dev, Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman, Rahul Dravid and BCCI president-elect Sourav Ganguly were found to be in violation of the conflict of interest clause in the last few months. BCCI’s Rule 38 (4) barred individuals from holding more than one post at the same time. This applied to players, selectors, members of cricket committees, team officials, franchise managers or commentators.

The CoA has now urged for a case-by-case discretion from the Ethics Officer. This had become necessary in light of the realisation that this was a crucial time in the revamp of BCCI and it was important that the Indian board “engaged with former players since the cricket reforms process requires cricketing activities to be managed only by cricket committees, exclusively comprising of former players.”

The CoA suggested that former international players, who are not in long-term contract with the BCCI or in positions of governance in the BCCI or its member associations, be exempt from 38 (4)’s restrictions. So those contracted by BCCI for less than two years, may now be allowed to occupy more than one post so long as fulfilling this role or conducting that duty isn’t compromised or prejudiced by donning of multiple hats.

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According to the status report, the CoA felt that though vacancies needed to be filled, there were only few available individuals with the required superior cricketing skillset and expertise in the game. “Therefore restriction of their involvement to merely one post will adversly impact the utilization of the best cricketing expertise available for filling up cricketing positions and the overall improvement of the game,” the report stated.

The CoA now wants to involve individuals in multiple capacities where none of the roles are hit by conflict, so it won’t limit employment of former players, who can work with the BCCI on part-time basis. Several cricketers and their legal representatives had stressed that the conflict rules were imposing undue restriction on their right to earn a livelhood in the Indian cricketing ecosystem.

The report further read, “Rules pertaining to conflict of interest are too rigid and prohibit holding of two unrelated or remotely-related posts as listed by 38(4). It prohibits even former players and current players, who do not have long term contracts with the BCCI to hold other positions not only in the BCCI but within the entire Indian cricket ecosystem. The current players, not on an annual contract with the BCCI, and participating in limited number of cricket tournaments for limited part of the year are being unduly restricted from being gainfully employed even outside the BCCI during off season.”

The CoA comprising Vinod Rai, Diana Edulji and Vinod Thodge were compelled to reconsider 38 (4) after a host of top retired Indian cricketers had to undergo legal scrutiny with BCCI’s Ethics officer DK Jain.

Tendulkar had to recuse himself from CAC (Cricket Advisory Committee). Later, Jain ordered Laxman and Ganguly to choose between their IPL teams and their respective positions in state associations and BCCI. Kapil Dev resigned from his post of ad-hoc CAC chief whereas Dravid’s hearing is still under process.

“The Committee of Administrators has come across various instances where the rules pertaining to conflict of interest have been applied to positions and scenarios which in its view did not warrant such application. Possibly, this is result of straightjacketed applications of the rules on the basis of certain illustrations given in the conflict rules which seem to cover within its ambit a wide range of scenarios and individual irrespective of their level of proximity or association within the BCCI administration,” the status report read.

The CoA had held meetings with a number of past and current cricketers who were adamant that the BCCI needed to relax few clauses. Cricketers had argued how coaching two teams (franchise, state or national) could fall under conflict, or how playing cricket and commentating in IPL could possibly be seen as conflicting when the Indian board wasn’t even offering a full contract to each cricketer, falling under their umbrella. The players had felt that it was too harsh on them as all their life they had “only known cricket”.

The BCCI will however demand full disclosure within 15 days of potential problem areas. These may be deemed as tractable or intractable, and will then be acted upon by the Ethics Officer. It is suggested that players past or present, who are handed full-time contract shall strictly come under conflict of interest rules. Whereas those who are engaged on annual basis, or two-three years contract should be allowed to hold multiple positions except in Apex Council and Governing Council.

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