BCCI CEO goes on leave to prepare explanation for anonymous harassment allegation

BCCI CEO Rahul Johri at a press conference Sajjad Hussain/AFP

The Committee of Administrators (CoA) will take charge of the daily management of the BCCI with the board's chief executive officer, Rahul Johri, going on leave. Johri, who was named last week in an anonymous allegation of sexual harassment as part of the #MeToo movement, had been asked by the CoA for an explanation and ESPNcricinfo understands he has taken leave to prepare it.

Johri - who has not yet publicly reacted - has not visited his office at the BCCI headquarters in Mumbai since the allegation surfaced. The CoA had also "exempted" him, at his request, from attending the ICC's chief executive committee meetings later this week in Singapore. The ICC, ESPNcricinfo has learned, also had reservations about Johri attending the meeting and is understood to have conveyed them to the BCCI.

The CoA will rely on the operations teams to minimise the impact of Johri's absence on the running of cricket as well as the BCCI.

Ever since the CoA was appointed on January 30, 2017 as the supervisory authority of the BCCI, Johri has been the panel's point man, while being in charge of running the board and the main decision-maker. Last week, he and the CoA met the Indian team management, including captain Virat Kohli and coach Ravi Shastri, to discuss the roadmap to next year's World Cup, preparation for the forthcoming Australia tour, injury and workload management among other important issues.

Vinod Rai, the CoA chairman, told ESPNcricinfo he did not want the issue to "simmer", and hence gave Johri seven days to respond to the allegations. "It is a purely anonymous complaint," Rai said. "It is on an unknown Twitter handle and it pertains to a period much before he [Johri] joined BCCI. The CoA felt it would only be fair to us and him that we give him a chance to explain."

Rai, who had also consulted independent voices, pointed out that it was important to seek Johri's explanation as he was a BCCI employee, and consequently not just his but even the board's image would be in question.

The big challenge for the CoA is that the person who has made the allegation against Johri has not identified herself or written to the CoA directly. In the absence of any investigative powers, it remains to be seen how the CoA will deal with Johri's response.

Other than the CoA, the other arbitrators who will judge Johri's submission will be the BCCI's legal team and, if need be the Complaints Committee, which was formed this April under the Sexual Harassment against Women at Workplace Act 2013.