While CoA member Diana Edulji is strongly in favour of terminating Johri’s contract, chairman Vinod Rai wants an independent probe against him.
Mumbai: The court-appointed panel heading the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has been apprised of yet another case of alleged sexual misconduct against the board’s chief executive officer.
This comes at a time when there is already a split within the two-member Committee of Administrators (CoA) on the action to be taken against BCCI chief executive Rahul Johri on the previous complaint of sexual harassment.
Also read: CoA split on Rahul Johri sexual harassment charges shows Vinod Rai has dropped the ball
In a statement issued Thursday, the CoA accepted the lack of consensus within the panel on the matter involving Johri. While the committee member, Diana Edulji has been strongly in favour of terminating Johri’s contract, its chairman Vinod Rai said an independent inquiry against Johri is necessary.
In another setback, Karina Kripalani, the presiding officer of BCCI’s internal complaints committee (ICC), resigned Friday. Despite her claim that her resignation is for personal reasons and she had planned it for a long time, there is speculation that it could be due to the latest developments in the cricket board.
ThePrint has reached Kripalani for comment, but there was no response until the time of publishing this report.
The fresh complaint
Former Mumbai cricket captain Shishir Hattangadi spoke to a CoA member regarding an incident involving one of his friends who was allegedly sexually harassed by Johri.
“I have a dear friend who reached to me saying she had encountered sexual harassment. She narrated the whole incident to me and wanted my support and help,” Hattangadi told ThePrint.
“I advised her to write to the CoA if this has to take a logical conclusion. I spoke to one of the members of the CoA,” he said.
“I am happy to corroborate, testify if they deem it fit. I have not probed the matter further and I do not know if the letter (written complaint) has gone or not,” he added.
Hattangadi said, he does not know Johri personally and has never even socialised with him. “For me, he is only a name. There is no personal animosity or grouse. I am not here to judge people or make decisions,” he said.
“I am only here to help a friend, hold her hand and say I am with you to make sure your voice can be heard in the corridors of power. If a friend approaches you and you see merit in what they say, it is your moral duty to help them out,” the former cricketer said.
Hattangadi said that for him the game of cricket and the protecting the institution that represents it is paramount.
ThePrint reached both Vinod Rai and Diana Edulji for comment but there was no response until the time of publishing this report.
CoA is a divided house
There is an open feud within the CoA on the action to be taken against Johri over the first allegation of sexual misconduct.
Author and poet Harnidh Kaur named Johri in a Twitter post earlier this month , sharing screenshots of the victim’s detailed account. The victim, who has chosen to remain anonymous, described Johri as an ex-colleague and narrated how he took her to his house while discussing a potential job offer and molested her, saying this was the final part of her interview. Johri has been on leave since then and was even forced to pull out of an International Cricket Council’s Chief Executives Committee meeting in Singapore.
The CoA asked Johri to give an explanation with regards to the allegation. “He was granted a week to respond. Mr. Johri submitted his explanation on 20th October, 2018, denying that the incident referred to in the allegations every took place,” the CoA said in a statement late Thursday.
In the same statement, the CoA accepted the lack of consensus within the panel on what action it should take against Johri. Edulji has been strongly in favour of terminating Johri’s contract given the grave sexual harassment allegations against him. But CoA chairman Rai said that since the complaint was anonymous and pertained to a period much before Johri joined as BCCI CEO, an independent inquiry against Johri is necessary.
Accordingly, the CoA appointed an independent three-member committee comprising Rakesh Sharma, former judge at the Allahabad High Court, Barkha Singh, former chairperson of the Delhi Commission for Women, and P.C. Sharma, a former CBI director.
“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,” the statement from CoA read.
“Ms. Edulji informed the chairman that she would approach Learned Amicus Curiae Shri Gopal Subramanium for further guidance, if no action is taken and the CEO is allowed to continue,” it said.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Edulji said, “As a woman in the CoA, it was my moral duty to ask for the resignation because my women’s team is there, my women support staff is there, and there are women staff working in BCCI. He (Johri) will roam around freely in the office.”
“What message are we sending to these girls? How can I sit in the meeting with him? I can’t look in his eyes. You can’t say now he can’t sit in the meeting, then how will CoA work? After all, our main goal is to implement the Lodha recommendations,” she added.
Besides the allegation by Johri’s former colleague, the CoA is also battling criticism for hushing up another complaint of sexual harassment against Johri by one of BCCI’s own employees earlier this year.
‘3-member panel’s report may not stand legal scrutiny’
BCCI functionaries who have had several conflicts with the CoA say that the report of the three-member committee appointed by Rai may not stand legal scrutiny as it is not the CoA’s decision, and only its chairman’s decision.
Also read: Suspend BCCI CEO Rahul Johri & probe him: State associations’ ultimatum to Vinod Rai’s CoA
In addition, the internal complaints committee (ICC) that the BCCI constituted earlier this year to look into allegations of sexual harassment of women in the workplace has not considered the matter at all, they say.
“The committee has not been constituted by a decision of the CoA. The CoA is a two-member committee. One member said the committee should be formed and the other member said Johri should be thrown out,” a BCCI source said.
“So, this is just a decision taken by Vinod Rai unilaterally. Tomorrow, the first thing that the accused will do in court is to attack the committee saying it has no sanctity. Also, if Johri is held not guilty, others will say that the committee had no sanctity,” the source added.