The disciplinary process with regard to “misconduct and indiscipline” charges against Hardik Pandya and KL Rahul is in limbo, putting a serious question mark over the time frame of the suspended players’ return to the Indian team fold. Their IPL participation, too, will depend on the outcome of the disciplinary process, which is yet to commence. The twenty20 league starts on March 23.
Committee of Administrators (CoA) chairman Vinod Rai and member Diana Edulji are not in agreement over how the inquiry should be conducted and the whole issue became even more complicated on Sunday, with Rai communicating to Edulji that he won’t be part of the process if it doesn’t follow the BCCI constitution. The CoA chairman wanted cricket board chief executive Rahul Johri to commence the inquiry, “as advised by legal”. Edulji didn’t agree, saying that the CEO conducting the inquiry would present “bad optics”, as he himself had been embroiled in a sexual harassment case. Edulji wanted BCCI office-bearers to be part of the process instead.
“If she (Edulji) wants to do it (inquiry), along with the acting secretary (Amitabh Choudhary), she is welcome to do it. I won’t associate. The (BCCI) constitution doesn’t allow it. The CoA has been appointed to implement the new constitution, not to go against it. Legal advices, also, are against that (CoA and office-bearers/secretary conducting the inquiry),” Rai told The Indian Express, adding: “If the CoA conducts the inquiry, who will we give the report to?”
Rai referred to Article 41 of the new BCCI constitution, which empowers the CEO to conduct any disciplinary inquiry against players.
On Sunday, Babul Supriyo, union minister and playback singer, waded into the controversy, criticising Edulji for “contemplating extreme steps”.
Tagging a post from Circle of Cricket India – ‘KL Rahul and Hardik Pandya likely to miss ICC World Cup 2019’ – Supriyo tweeted: “With due & utter respect to Diana Edulji & her contribution to Indian cricket, May I say that her thinking has got (sic) ‘fossil’ to contemplate such extreme steps• What Hardik said is deplorable but their (sic) has to be some prudence in the way such senior minds handle the young ones”.
Supriyo also said there should be a “thick” line between “reprimanding” the players and “destroying” them. “There is ‘Thick’ line between reprimanding someone and destroying them!! My plea to these seniors: please behave your ages gentlemen & ladies.. Rest my case”.
The CoA has suspended Pandya and Rahul pending inquiry following their comments on the show Koffee with Karan that were considered misogynistic and racially insensitive.
They have been sent back from Australia, with the selectors picking their replacements, Vijay Shankar and Shubman Gill, for the remaining two ODIs Down Under and the subsequent New Zealand tour.
The CoA notices to the players on Friday debarred them from playing/participating in any BCCI, ICC and/or state association tournament/event “until final adjudication of the matter”. As per the recommendation sent by the cricket board’s legal team, Pandya and Rahul should be given one week to respond to their show-cause notices.
Coming back to the new BCCI constitution, Article 41. (1) (c) states: “In the event of any complaint being received from any quarter or based on any report published or circulated or on its own motion, of any act of indiscipline or misconduct or violation of any of the Rules and Regulations by any Player, Umpire, Team Official, Selector or any person associated with the BCCI, the Apex Council shall refer the same within 48 hours to the CEO to make a preliminary enquiry.”
The CoA performs the role of the Apex Council at the moment, till the AGM takes place. Asked, when the inquiry process will begin, Rai said: “I’m not very sure.”