No case of conflict against Ganguly - BCCI ombudsman
Justice AP Shah, the BCCI ombudsman, has ruled that no case of conflict of interest could be found against former India captain Sourav Ganguly under the board's rules on the subject. Freelance journalist Niraj Gunde had filed a case with Shah alleging that Ganguly, who is part of the IPL governing council, was in direct conflict having failed to disclose his commercial partnership with the RP Sanjeev Goenka Group, which owns the football franchise Atletico de Kolkata as well as the company that bid successfully for the Pune IPL franchise.
While Ganguly had admitted in his response to Shah that he owned a stake of about 5% in the Atletico de Kolkata franchise, he pointed out that he was not in any way related to New Rising India Pvt. Ltd, which bid for the Pune IPL franchise. Gunde insisted that by not disclosing his relationship with the promoters of the Pune franchise, Ganguly was at fault. He also pointed out to Shah that Ganguly, by being part of the IPL Governing Council, was already aware of who all had picked the bid documents and would have been aware of the bid contents.
However, Shah looked at the issue differently. "The Ombudsman considered the application and the various submissions made, and found that none of the conflict of interest rules are attracted in the present instance," Shah noted in a two-page e-mail that he sent to Ganguly, Gunde and the BCCI.
Ganguly's was the first high-profile case filed with Shah, who took over as BCCI's inaugural ombudsman, as part of the reforms drive initiated by its president Shashank Manohar last October. Shah said he had also examined whether there could be a possible conflict of interest "beyond what is framed in the rules", because Ganguly had attended the Governing Council meeting when the bids were opened.
"In order to examine this, it is important to understand the bidding process itself. It is clear that the bidding process involved first, the submission of sealed technical and financial bids; second, the opening of technical bids; third, the scrutiny of the technical bids by lawyers; fourth, the opening of financial bids; and fifth, the selection of the lowest bidder among those who had qualified the technical round. All of these steps were taken on the same day in the presence of all the bidders," Shah wrote in the e-mail, accessed by ESPNcricinfo. "It is clear that members of the IPL Governing Council had no role to play, more so because the final selection of the bidder was based on objective criteria, i.e., the lowest bid."
According to Shah, both he and Gunde were satisfied by Ganguly's statement that he was returning from London to Delhi at the time the technical bids were opened and subsequently examined by the BCCI lawyers.
"The question arises as to whether a member of the IPL Governing Council had any role to play in the bidding process," Shah said. "If the person had no role to play, other than remaining present during/through the bidding process (because of the post they held), there is no reason to raise doubts about the person's role, as is the case in the present matter.
"The Ombudsman, therefore, does not view Mr Ganguly's presence or conduct in the bidding process as violating any rules of conflict of interest. The bidding process was transparent, and due process was followed. Under the circumstances, the Ombudsman is of the view that no case of conflict of interest has been established or made out against Mr Ganguly, and therefore, the matter is accordingly disposed of."