BCCI acting secretary Amitabh Choudhary questions CoA's handling of Johri allegations

BCCI acting secretary Amitabh Choudhary speaks to the media PTI

Amitabh Choudhary, the BCCI's acting secretary, has asked the Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA) to resolve the rift within it over the handling of the allegations of harassment against CEO Rahul Johri. The two members of the CoA, chairman Vinod Rai and Diana Edulji, had disagreed over the way ahead in the issue, and Choudhary has alleged that the procedure eventually followed was improper on several grounds.

On Thursday night, the CoA sent out a press release announcing that a three-member independent inquiry committee would investigate the allegations against Johri. The release also detailed the disagreement between Rai, who felt an independent inquiry was necessary, and Edulji, who had wanted Johri to resign or have his contract terminated.

In an email to the CoA, which ESPNcricinfo has accessed, Choudhary has accused the CoA of dealing with the allegations in a "cavalier manner" and questioned the "days of inaction" between Johri submitting his explanation to the CoA (October 20) and the setting up of the independent panel.

Choudhary also accused Rai of overstepping his powers as chairman and overriding the views of Edulji, the CoA's other member.

"The Committee of Administrators was constituted by the Hon'ble Supreme Court as a four member body and one of the members of the said committee was made the chairman to convene its meetings and preside over them," Choudhary's email said. "The position of the Chairman was only that of first among equals and no additional or superior powers had or have been conferred upon the Chairman by the Hon'ble Supreme Court.

"Presently, the committee comprises two members and both members are equal in status for all purposes. That being so, the Learned Chairman has no power or authority to prevail over the views of the other esteemed member and take decisions unilaterally on behalf of the CoA or on behalf of the BCCI."

Given the divergence of views between Rai and Edulji, Choudhary said the only way forward was for the CoA to refer the issue to either the Supreme Court or the BCCI's general body.

Choudhary said there was no explanation in the CoA's press release of how the inquiry committee was constituted and who chose its three members. Given that she disagreed with the need for an independent inquiry, Choudhary suggested Edulji could "hardly have had anything to do with" setting up the committee. This, Choudhary said, made the inquiry committee "further suspect".

Of the three members of the inquiry committee, two - Rakesh Sharma, a former judge of the Allahabad High Court, and PC Sharma, a former director of the Central Bureau of Investigation - are over 70 years old. This, Choudhary said, disqualified them from being part of such a committee, under the BCCI's new constitution.

"A committee stricken with such infirmities from its inception is hardly expected to dispense any real justice and is bound to be seen with great suspicion," the email said. "The undersigned most humbly desires that a solution be immediately be found in view of the points noted above."