The internal E-mail correspondence between Committee of Administrators (CoA) members Vinod Rai and Diana Edulji with BCCI office bearers Rahul Johri (CEO), Amitabh Choudhary (joint secretary), CK Khanna (acting president) and Anirudh Chaudhry (treasurer) along with the legal team, reveals how things transpired following Hardik Pandya and KL Rahul’s comments on TV show Koffee with Karan which is hosted by film maker Karan Johar.
In the origin of the back and forth between the key players, CEO Johri issued a showcause notice to Pandya following his statements which were deemed “crass” by Rai and many in social media including former office bearers of the national body. In response, Pandya wrote, “Dear Sir, Please find attached my reply to the BCCI show cause notice. Also attached are the screenshots of my public apology as issued by me on my social media handles this morning.”
In subsequent replies, Rai wrote, “The apology has obviously been drafted by the agency. Doesn’t appear sincere. I am inclined to suggest a penalty. But since I have not seen the clip, maybe Diana would like to suggest some penalty. There should be a penalty? What do you feel? Could be different for both players depending upon what they have said in the show.”
He went on to add in another response, “I have seen the remarks made by these two players on the show in print today. Very crass. No apology can cover it. I had asked Diana to suggest penalty because I had not seen the clip. I think we need to give both of them a two match suspension. If Diana agrees, Rahul please draft an appropriate instruction and issue today as their explanations have come in. Separately please prepare an advisory to all BCCI contracted players and support staff.”
At this point Edulji sought the opinion of the legal team on course of action. Indranil Deshmukh advised BCCI to adhere to Rule 41 of the Constitution and seek explanation from them as to why they should not be proceeded against for misconduct and indiscipline.
The E-mail addressed to Edulji said: “The show cause letter (to Pandya and Rahul) should specify that (i) the same is being issued under Rule 41 of the BCCI Constitution and (ii) an enquiry against them has commenced. We are of the view that there is a risk of the communications sent by the BCCI to the players on 9th January 2019 not being construed as a communication under Rule 41 of the BCCI Constitution.
“This is because the said communications dated 9th January 2019 do not contain the specifications/ingredients mentioned hereinabove. Therefore, to ensure that there are no procedural missteps, it would be preferable that fresh communications are issued by the CEO to the concerned players…”
Further it was recommended that “The CEO should submit its report to the COA (as the COA is performing the role and responsibility of the Apex Council envisaged in the BCCI Constitution) at the earliest and in any event within 15 days from date of reference by the COA.”
On January 12, Rai recommended that the enquiry be completed quickly and explanations sought at the earliest. Further, the timeline being looked at was the second ODI between India and Australia (played on Tuesday). Edulji, in response, differed on the timeline and process. She said, “We should be in no hurry to conduct the inquiry as then it will look like a cover up job being done. The behaviour of the players have been very controversial and should not be co realted [sic] with delibating [sic] team strength.”
“In order to be fair and transparent and in legal terms it is said that not only justice is done but also seen to be done. As such my view is we follow natural justice and total transparency and not let any external factors come into play.”
On suspension handed to the players, Edulji also brought out a precedent from 1936 surrounding Lala Amarnath being sent back for alleged insubordination. She wrote, “There has been a precedent when Lala Amarnath was sent back from UK. Such strict steps will ensure that no one henceforth makes such loose talk which are detrimental to the image of Cricketers, Cricket and BCCI at large. For your knowledge, in the recently concluded football World Cup a Croatian player was sent back after their first game on disciplinary grounds, Croatia went on to win the World Cup.”
On steps forward, Edulji stated “As the SC hearing is scheduled for 17th Jan, let the court be informed about this situation and let an Ombudsman be appointed by the court instead of taking a wrong step of appointing the ad hoc ombudsman, which is not as per the new constitution.”