India news April 20, 2019

Hardik, Rahul directed to contribute INR 20 lakh each to charity

ESPNcricinfo staff

© BCCI

Hardik Pandya and KL Rahul have been directed to contribute INR 20 lakh (USD 30,000 approx.) each to charity by BCCI ombudsman Justice DK Jain "in order to purge" their "collective indiscretion" on a talk show where they made controversial and offensive comments. The two have already missed five ODIs each as part of a provisional ban pending inquiry. Both are part of India's 15-member squad for the World Cup to be played in June and July in the UK.

The controversy began when their interview on the show Koffee With Karan was aired in the first week of January. At various points on the show, Hardik spoke of feeling "West Indian in spirit" and of how he likes to observe women in night clubs and has ties with many women, comments that were immediately criticised for being racist and sexist on social media. These remarks led Vinod Rai, the head of the Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA), which is running the BCCI right now, to take immediate action. However, in the absence of an ombudsman or an ethics officer in the BCCI, an inquiry couldn't take place and it was decided that the players can't be suspended indefinitely.

Having missed ODIs in Australia and New Zealand, the duo made their comebacks. Their case was handed over to Justice Jain as soon as he assumed the charge of the BCCI ombudsman. He sent a notice to the two players on April 2 and both appeared before Justice Jain in person on April 9 and 10, and repeated the apology they had made in public. The BCCI CEO Rahul Johri also appeared before Jain, and present the CoA's view that missing out on five matches and the match fee for those matches was sufficient penalty in their view.

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Jain didn't disagree with it, but added a further direction. "Taking into consideration all these aspects," his order read, "in particular that the player has tendered an apology for the incident without seeking to justify his action, has acknowledged his duty to the society and expressed his willingness to hold himself to higher standards expected of him and has missed out five ODIs; in the interest of justice and fair play, in order to purge his collective indiscretion, it would suffice if the player is directed to..."

The order goes on to direct that the players should pay INR 1 lakh each to the "most-deserving" widows of 10 constables of the para-military forces and deposit Rs 10 lakh each to a fund created for promotion of cricket among the blind.

Having studied all evidence including the oral submissions of Pandya and Rahul, Justice Jain said that since both players had not "contested" the BCCI action against them, there was no need for any "categorical findings" to establish their acts constituted misconduct and indiscipline.

Justice Jain said that in a country where cricketers are "idolised", "revered" and are "role models", the player has to be mindful of the fact that he is "shouldering the responsibility towards the society" at all times on and off the field. "These impressionable young adults try to emulate not only their style of playing but also their conduct and demeanour and therefore, they cannot be unmindful of the impact of their casual and off the cuff remarks," Justice Jain said.

The ombudsman concluded that he had "no hesitation in observing that the remarks" made by both players "did offend sensitivities, which ought to have been avoided".

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