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CoA gets third member, BCCI gets ombudsman

Ravi Thodge, a retired lieutenant general, joins Rai and Edulji, while Justice DK Jain takes over as board's final adjudicating authority

The Supreme Court of India, New Delhi, February 12, 2018

The Supreme Court of India  •  Getty Images

The Committee of Administrators (CoA), which is currently overseeing the functioning of the BCCI, has a new third member: Ravi Thodge, a retired lieutenant general of the Indian army. The Supreme Court made the appointment on Thursday, during a hearing of various issues related to the Justice Lodha Committee's recommendations.
Thodge's appointment comes after months of heated and public disagreement over several issues between the two existing members of the CoA: Vinod Rai, the former Comptroller and Auditor General of India, and Diana Edulji, the former India women captain.
During the hearing, Justice SA Bobde expressed his displeasure at Rai and Edulji airing their differences in public, and asked the amicus curiae PS Narasimha to instruct them not to do so. Narasimha suggested that reconstituting the CoA to an odd number could help solve potential deadlocks, and Bobde wondered aloud if there should be five members. In the end, the court settled on three, making its decision in chambers.
It is not yet known if Thodge will be part of the BCCI meeting on Friday, where top-level officials including Rai and Edulji are set to discuss - among other issues - whether to send the ICC a draft letter asking for Pakistan to be banned from the upcoming World Cup.
The court has also appointed Justice DK Jain, a retired Supreme Court judge, as the BCCI's ombudsman, the board's final adjudicating authority under its new constitution.
The post had been vacant since Justice AP Shah finished his term in late 2016 and the Committee of Administrators (CoA) had been asking the court for directions on a new appointment since Justice Shah's departure.
One of the first issues Justice Jain is likely to deal with is the recent suspension of Indian players Hardik Pandya and KL Rahul. The pair had been suspended pending an inquiry into their offensive comments on an television chat show, which the CoA concluded had violated the Code of Conduct. The players were eventually allowed to continue playing, subject to the case reaching its conclusion upon the appointment and adjudication of an ombudsman.
When Justice Bodbe asked the amicus what the hurry was to appoint an ombudsman, Narasimha replied that the ombudsman was the dispute resolution mechanism, and there were quite a few issues where he could help. When the judge asked for an example, the amicus pointed to the alleged misconduct of the CEO Rahul Johri, an issue that was settled after an independent panel cleared him of sexual harassment allegations by 2-1 majority.
It was a contentious verdict, with Edulji and two of the three BCCI office bearers disagreeing with it. It is likely that Justice Jain would need to study the final report of the independent panel before taking any fresh step.