Diana Edulji, part of the two-member Committee of Administrators (CoA), wanted to sack Rahul Johri, BCCI’s CEO, after allegations of sexual harassment surfaced against him but Vinod Rai, the chairman of CoA, after legal consultations, decided to set up an independent committee to investigate the accusations. It’s learnt that Edulji wanted Johri sacked on the charge of bringing disrepute to BCCI but Rai wasn’t on the same page. The independent committee would probe the charge of sexual molestation that dates back to Johri’s previous employment with Discovery and is also free to investigate any complaint from any staff from within BCCI against Johri, who joined as BCCI CEO in April 2016.
The independent committee would comprise Justice Rakesh Sharma, a former Judge of Allahabad High Court, Barkha Singh, former chairperson of Delhi commission for Women, and PC Sharma, former director of CBI. They would submit their report, with findings and recommendations on way forward, within 15 days and Johri would continue to remain on leave until the issue is resolved.
There was some ambiguity on whether the independent committee can probe allegations dating to Johri’s previous employment as well but Rai clarified that they can do so. “The committee is free to probe to all allegations against Johri – from past employment or with BCCI,” Rai clarified to The Indian Express.
On Thursday, hours before news of independent committee was made public, seven state units of BCCI had demanded suspension of Johri. In another development, it’s learnt that Johri had submitted to CoA names of 11 women colleagues from Discovery who can vouch for his character and conduct.
The writer and poet Harnidh Kaur had first named Johri in a twitter post, attaching screenshots of an anonymous victim’s account of molestation by Johri when he was with Discovery. This allegation was then followed by another issue — of a BCCI employee tendering her resignation because of alleged harassment by Johri this February. She later rejoined in a new role where she no longer had to report to Johri.
In a press release, the COA had publicly acknowledged the divide within CoA on how to tackle the issue. “Ms. Diana Edulji, expressed her view that since the CEO has such grave sexual harassment allegations against him, it would not be in the interests of BCCI and Indian cricket that he represents BCCI. In view of this she suggested that he resigns or his contract be terminated. The Chairman of the COA did not agree and felt that an independent inquiry was necessary as the tweet was anonymous. It also pertained to a period much before the CEO joined BCCI and it was necessary to provide natural justice to the CEO by following a due process of law. The Chairman was very clear that in similar instances, the person against whom allegations had been made, were permitted to represent their case before an independent committee which would then take a considered view after weighing all evidence. Ms.
Edulji felt that neither is such an inquiry called for nor is it appropriate. She was of the view that considering the details and nature of the allegation, there were sufficient grounds for his removal. Ms Edulji informed the Chairman she would approach Learned Amicus Curiae Shri Gopal Subramanium for further guidance, if no action is taken and the CEO is allowed to continue,” the statement read. “
“All facts and aforesaid alleged transgressions, may be placed before the committee. The committee will be free to seek any record or evidence that it desires. Any person desiring to place any fact before the committee is also free to do so.”