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Good week for Indian sports, bad news for cricket board officials

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By Veturi Srivatsa

Good news for Indian sports in the last one week. The men’s and women’s teams have won the Twenty20 cricket series in Australia even as tennis star Sania Mirza claimed her first women’s doubles title at the Australian Open, and Pusarla Venkata Sindu clinched the Malaysian Badminton Masters. A rare coincidence!

The focus is back on the sports, coming out of courtrooms and board rooms, or so it appeared. But the Justice Rajendra Mal Lodha Committee recommendations to cleanse Indian cricket and its administration continue to be a subject matter of intense discussion among the state associations and officials, each one trying to read and interpret the fine print to suit his personal interests.

Even before the detailed Lodha Committee report is fully studied by state associations, as instructed by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), the appointment of Justice Ajit Prakash Shah as the board’s ombudsman, as suspected, is getting flooded with complaints, the initial ones on the alleged conflict of interest involving some top guns.

Smartly, Justice Shah lobbed the ball back into the court of the complainant, asking for the specific rules under which the allegations can be taken up for examination!

The complaint is against three high-profile administrators, two of these former India cricketers, Sourav Ganguly and Vikram Rathour. The third person dragged into the conflict is board secretary Anurag Thakur. A free-lance journalist from Mumbai found a serious conflict of interest with the functioning of all three.

It was pointed out that Ganguly has business contacts with owners of the new franchise of the Indian Premier League (IPL), and Thakur and Rathour are said to be cousins and have business connections. The issue has apparently been raised because Thakur is the board secretary, and during his tenure as one of the principal office-bearers Rathour was appointed as a national selector.

Justice Shah has taken up the issue with Ganguly and the board for clarification, and even said that he had not heard from Ganguly, though the former India captain insists he had sent in his reply.

Thakur was quick to refute the allegations, stating his business relations with Rathour has nothing to do with cricket and that their families have known each other for four decades.

For good measure, Thakur points to a sinister motive behind the complaints as he sees names of only a particular section of the board officials are being dragged. He also defended the board’s media manager, saying he has no stake in the media company he has been linked to. What Thakur doesn’t say is that the media manager was involved with a couple of former Test stars as their agent.

Whatever Ganguly and Thakur might say, prima facie they cannot deny their personal relations with the people they are involved with and they have to come clean. The complainant has done extensive research before filing his complaints and it is up to the ombudsman to take the call.

Ganguly, who is a member of the IPL Governing Council, is a co-owner of Indian Super League football club Atletico de Kolkata along with well-known businessmen. Nothing wrong with the arrangement till one of the tycoons bought IPL’s new Pune-based franchise. It would be interesting to see how Ganguly explains it away logically with legalese thrown in.

In Thakur’s case it is more personal. He was joint secretary when Rathour was appointed as a national selector and he was secretary when the former India opening batsman got the extension, though Rathour qualifies by virtue of being a former Test player.

The crux of the matter is not whether Rathour deserves to be a selector, the complainant brought into focus Rathour citizenship, pointing out that he is a British and carries that country’s passport.

In the case of the BCCI’s media manager, the allegation is that a family member of his is taking care of his business interests. Here it must be mentioned that he also fits in with the media job as he had worked with electronic media for a few years before getting into event management. His proximity to some top players is all too well known. In the past, there were disparaging whispers about a board’s media adviser being a columnist.

Thakur has also obliquely stated that the appointment of the ombudsman has given rise to some people to make false allegations. Eventually, he has to explain his position and it is for the ombudsman to decide whether there is any conflict of interest in Ganguly and Thakur-Rathour business dealings.

The Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB), of which Ganguly is president, is the first state unit to officially come out with objections to 10 of the 21 recommendations of the Lodha Committee!

Good week for sport, bad news of board officials. (IANS)(Photo: www.holdingwilley.com)

(Veturi Srivatsa is a senior journalist. The views expressed are personal)

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Guidelines For Filing Conflict Complaints, BCCI Comes Up With Its List Of Ethics And Regulations

It raises some serious concerns with regard to matters of sexual harassment which may have been stalled over and above the limitation period laid down in the act. The only remedy within the organisation in such cases is the Ethics Officer and this procedure would only be prohibitive for the aggrieved women.

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Any complaint sent to any other address shall not be entertained and shall be deemed to have never been received. Pixabay

Even as the Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA) ignored the proposals of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) office bearers with regards to guidelines for filing conflict complaints, BCCI Ombudsman and Ethics Officer D.K. Jain has independently laid down a procedure similar to the one deliberated by BCCI officials.

In the guidelines, accessed by IANS, Jain has said that it has become absolutely necessary to provide a framework so that genuine issues are not swept under the carpet. This after a recent rise in mails from all and sundry pulling up former cricketers on alleged conflict issues.

“It has been noticed that numerous emails are being received, which contain all kinds of allegations against past and present players, officials, functionaries of the Board of Control for Cricket in India, etc. This often results in delay in the processing of the genuine complaints or some of them, inadvertently, get ignored due to sheer number of emails received by the Office of the Ethics Officer.

“Therefore, it has become absolutely necessary to devise a mechanism to ensure that only genuine complaints are received and ultimately entertained by the Office of the Ethics Officer, BCCI, which shall also ensure that the same get taken up and decided expeditiously and no time is wasted in dealing with frivolous/non-genuine Complaints,” it read.

Speaking to IANS, a senior BCCI official rued how greats like Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and V.V.S. Laxman could have been kept away from the recent cases of humiliation had the CoA in the first place accepted their proposal. Under a fix due to complaints against the stalwarts, the CoA has now called the issues of conflict against them as “tractable”. But the players have made it clear that the CoA is to blame for this.

“This should have been the first order of the office. We have always raised these concerns. I remember Ajay Shirke being very vocal about this in 2016 when the BCCI in its SGM had adopted 90 per cent of the Lodha recommendations. Just because this has come from the BCCI, it was looked at something evil. Now the ethics officer has issued the directions to that effect.

“It is about experience and intent. The suggestions and deliberations of the BCCI members was backed with practical experiences that got down to the brass tacks. An exposure to international players and the authority of a dictator can not replace experience. These directions from the ethics officer only underline the importance of experience and the balances approach that he has adopted,” the official said.

Another official though sounded the warning bell bringing to light the issue of alleged complaint of sexual harassment against CEO Rahul Johri.

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“When you have a scenario where even the report of the independent committee has not been made available to the aggrieved women, there is no way that they can even source the information that they wish to complain about,” the official pointed. Pixabay

“It raises some serious concerns with regard to matters of sexual harassment which may have been stalled over and above the limitation period laid down in the act. The only remedy within the organisation in such cases is the Ethics Officer and this procedure would only be prohibitive for the aggrieved women.

“When you have a scenario where even the report of the independent committee has not been made available to the aggrieved women, there is no way that they can even source the information that they wish to complain about,” the official pointed.

The guidelines that need to be followed to file a complaint with the ethics officer are:

1. Mode of filing:

a. Every Complaint before the Ethics Officer, BCCI shall be filed in physical form, comprising of 2 hard copies (first being the Original and the second being the photocopy thereof).

b. Such complaints shall be sent, either by post or by hand, to:

The Office of the Ethics Officer,

The Board of Control for Cricket in India Cricket Centre,

Wankhede Stadium, D-Road, Churchgate, Mumbai- 400 020

Any complaint sent to any other address shall not be entertained and shall be deemed to have never been received.

c. In addition to the above, a scanned copy of the complaint shall be sent to the office of the Ethics Officer at the email ID: ethics.officer@bcci.tv.

d. Complaints filed, only by way of an email or by way of whatsapp/sms or such like other electronic modes of communication, without first filing the hard copies thereof in terms of paragraph 1(a) above, or the personal email of either the Ethics Officer, BCCI or any of the officials of the BCCI shall not be entertained.

2. Necessary particulars

Every Complaint filed with the Office of the Ethics Officer, BCCI shall mandatorily contain the following details of the Complainant:

a. Full Name

b. Father’s/Husband’s/Mother’s Name

c. Age

d. Complete postal address along with pin code

e. Mobile No.

f. Email id

g. Telephone (Landline) No.

h. Identity and the address Proof of the Complainant (any one- Aadhaar Card, Driving License, Passport or Voter id)

The Complaint shall also contain the following details of the person complained against:

a. Full Name

b. Complete postal address along with pin code

c. Mobile No.

d. Email id

e. Telephone (Landline) No.

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It has been noticed that numerous emails are being received, which contain all kinds of allegations against past and present players, officials, functionaries of the Board of Control for Cricket in India. Pixabay

3. Source of Information and authentication

a. Every complaint must indicate the source of information and/or exact conflict of interest if any alleged, as prescribed in the rules and regulations.

b. Such Complaint filed with the Office of the Ethics Officer, BCCI must be supported by an Affidavit, duly attested/notarized by Oath Commissioner/ Notary Public.

4. Consequence of non-compliance of the practice directions

Any Complaint filed without complying with the practice directions, shall be liable to be rejected summarily, without going into its merits.

5. Applicability of practice directions

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The complaints already filed by way of emails, in which, cognizance has so far not been taken, shall also be processed only after these practice directions are fully complied with.

Sadly, in case of the conflict complaints raised against the trio of Tendulkar, Ganguly and Laxman, this process wasn’t followed and the first three former cricketers who took the plunge into BCCI administration under the CoA are now being made to justify their position after serving the nation over the years. (IANS)