Rahul Johri back at work at BCCI after contentious clean chit
The CoA is divided over the inquiry committee's report, which doesn't find the BCCI CEO guilty of sexual harrassment
Rahul Johri is set to continue in his position as chief executive officer of the BCCI with the Committee of Administrators unable to reach a consensus on what action should be taken against him, after the panel investigating allegations of sexual harassment against Johri did not find him guilty of those charges. The day's developments have evoked strong reactions from several people who testified before the panel, including the BCCI treasurer Anirudh Chaudhry.
ESPNcricinfo understands that Johri has already resumed charge and even sent a note to the CoA of his rejoining work.
The summarised report reveals a sharp difference between those who formed the majority opinion - Justice (retd) Rakesh Sharma of Allahabad High Court and Barkha Singh, a former head of the Delhi Commission for Women - and the third member, women's rights lawyer Veena Gowda. Sharma called the allegations "false, baseless" and Singh called it "motivated and fabricated"; both recommended Johri continue in his position.
Gowda, referring to one of the charges against Johri, relating to an incident in Birmingham, called his conduct "unprofessional and inappropriate, which would adversely affect its [BCCI's] reputation" and said it was "essential that… [Johri] undergo some form of gender sensitivity counselling/training."
The two members of the CoA - Vinod Rai and Diana Edulji - have also differed sharply over the interpretation of the panel's findings.
Rai, in his note to the report, referred to the opinion of Sharma and Singh that Johri may be permitted to function as the CEO as before. He also wrote that he inferred from Gowda's opinion that, "going forward, Johri needs to be counselled as aforesaid but there is no recommendation to take any other action against him."
Edulji's note made it clear that she did not agree with the conclusions of Sharma and Singh. She felt "the fact that Ms. Gowda has recommended that Mr. Johri should undergo gender sensitization counselling/ training is sufficient for her to arrive at the conclusion that he is not fit to be the CEO of BCCI". She also said it was her view that the report was "actually a split 2:1 verdict" and so Johri should be asked to resign.
"Since there is no consensus between the two members of the Committee of Administrators regarding what action should be taken against Mr. Rahul Johri, the Chairman [Vinod Rai] stated that the natural consequence would be that Mr. Johri continues as the CEO of BCCI and is entitled resume office," a CoA release said. "Ms. Edulji disagreed with this.
"However, the Chairman reiterated that Mr. Rahul Johri should continue as the CEO of BCCI and resume his duties, as a natural consequence."
The final verdict did not go down well with the BCCI treasurer Anirudh Chaudhry, who was among those who had deposed before the inquiry committee.
"This is clearly not a clean chit as is being propagated by a section of officials," Chaudhry said in a statement. "Ms. Veena Gowda, a member of the Inquiry Committee has observed that the Conduct of Mr. Rahul Johri at Birmingham, as a CEO of an institution such as BCCI is unprofessional and inappropriate which would adversely affect its reputation and the same has to be looked at by the concerned authorities.
"This is extremely shocking to say the least and this cannot be willed away by someone just because one may be in a position of authority. What makes it even more serious is that the time period referred to is one where the Hon'ble Supreme Court was monitoring the administration of the BCCI through the CoA. We cannot lose sight of the fact one member of the CoA i.e. 50% of the CoA appointed by the Hon'ble Supreme Court believes this to be serious enough to make the position of the CEO untenable in an organisation such as the BCCI."
It is understood that one of the two women who levelled the allegations against Johri is a friend of the former Mumbai cricketer Shishir Hattangadi, who testified before the committee. Hattangadi said he could not understand the "dichotomy" of opinions in the report.
"One of them is trying to paint Johri as the Pope, the other one is saying he needs counselling. Who am I supposed to believe?" Hattangadi told ESPNcricinfo. "Do we have to now judge the wisdom of these three people (in the committee) because they are completely contrary to each other? …
"The person who was asking the most questions was Veena Gowda. She was the most authoritative and the most proactive in the probe, the most pertinent questions were asked by her. And she was the conductor of the whole procedure. So as an observer her word for me would hold weight, because of the way she was so clear… and that is why I came out and made a statement [that] I am happy with the probe.
"That is what has surprised me in this whole probe - if they had said not enough evidence, not enough documentation, it is fine, that is your opinion, but here, one is giving a clear indication that something is amiss, and the other two are saying the opposite."
Among others who testified before the committee was Neeraj Kumar, former commissioner of Delhi Police. Asked today for his reaction to the decision, Kumar told ESPNcricinfo: "It's odd that on one side a member of the committee is advising counselling (for Johri) and on the other side, the person who deserves to be counselled is being asked to resume his duties."
Aditya Verma, the Cricket Association of Bihar chief who also testified before the committee, said he would raise before the Supreme Court "the conduct of Rahul Johri and Vinod Rai when it comes to women employees". The Supreme Court will next week resume hearing the case of the implementation of the Lodha Committee's recommendations to the BCCI; Verma is a party to the case.