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New BCCI ombudsman to adjudicate Pandya, Rahul's case

Hardik Pandya and KL Rahul were banned for their controversial comments in a TV programme Getty Images

The controversy surrounding Hardik Pandya and KL Rahul over their remarks on an Indian television chat show earlier this year will be the first case the BCCI's newly-appointed ombudsman, Justice DK Jain, will adjudicate on. The decision was taken after Justice Jain met all three members of the Committee of Administrators (CoA), along with the BCCI top brass including its chief executive Rahul Johri, in Delhi on Thursday.

It is understood that there is no timeframe for Justice Jain to take a final decision, which he would arrive at after a thorough inquiry, including calling both players to record their views. Both Pandya and Rahul have already apologised to the BCCI and the CoA twice in writing before returning to play. Pandya is currently recuperating from a back injury while Rahul is part of the ODI squad playing against Australia.

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Pandya and Rahul were suspended by the CoA on January 11 for their offensive comments on the chat show Koffee with Karan, which was aired in the first week of 2019. Both players were subsequently called back home from the limited-overs tour of Australia.

At the time, the two members of the CoA, Vinod Rai and Diana Edulji, were split on the next step. While Rai was in favour of banning the players for two matches, Edulji wanted the matter to be addressed properly through an inquiry process. The BCCI legal team's opinion was sought, and the CoA was told that as per the BCCI's constitution, only the ombudsman had the authority to carry out the inquiry.

Consequent to the intervention of amicus curiae PS Narsimha on January 24, the CoA provisionally lifted the suspension allowing Pandya and Rahul to play, but pointed out that allegations of misconduct against them would be dealt with once the ombudsman took charge.

The ombudsman's position had been vacant since 2016 until the Supreme Court appointed Justice Jain in February, while also adding Ravindra Thodge as the third member of the CoA.