Is Vinod Rai empowered enough in a divided CoA?

Updated: Nov 23, 2018, 11:59 IST | Harit N Joshi | Mumbai

On Wednesday, Johri was given a contentious clean chit by the independent three-member probe panel after charges of sexual harassment were unanimously dropped against him

Vinod Rai
Vinod Rai

The decision to permit BCCI CEO Rahul Johri to resume office has put the spotlight on Vinod Rai, chairman of the Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA).

On Wednesday, Johri was given a contentious clean chit by the independent three-member probe panel after charges of sexual harassment were unanimously dropped against him.

The CoA was a divided house though, after CoA member Diana Edulji objected to the probe panel's report. The former India captain disagreed with Johri resuming office. Rai, however, decided that Johri should continue as the BCCI CEO as a natural consequence despite a 2:1 verdict in his favour by the probe panel.

Two members of the probe panel [chairman retired Justice Rakesh Sharma and Barkha Singh, chairperson of Delhi Commission for Women] dismissed the allegations of sexual harassment as baseless and fabricated, while activist Veena Gowda, the third member, recommended "gender sensitivity counselling" for Johri. Her observation was based on Johri's conduct in Birmingham during the Champions Trophy. She was also critical of Johri's conduct before the probe committee.

Though Rai is the chairman of the CoA, the Supreme Court order on January 30, 2017, when the CoA was first formed, does not prescribe any special powers or a casting vote to him in cases where the house is divided. As per the order: "Mr. Vinod Rai shall be the Chairman of the Committee of Administrators. The CEO of BCCI shall report to the Committee of Administrators and the Administrators shall supervise the management of BCCI."

The Johri issue is the first instance where the CoA was divided. Rai first went against Edulji's decision and formed an independent probe panel whereas she wanted Johri suspended. The BCCI CEO was instead sent on a leave till the probe was conducted. On Wednesday, Rai decided to let Johri resume his duties as a "natural consequence" even as Edulji disagreed. Phone calls and messages to Rai went unanswered.

Verma to challenge probe report in SC
Petitioner Aditya Verma will raise critical points in the November 27 hearing in the Supreme Court regarding the probe panel's report. "Why wasn't the BCCI employee, who had objected to Johri's behaviour, called by the probe panel? She was an important person in this case. On what grounds was she not called. I will appeal to the apex court to re-conduct the probe," Verma told mid-day.

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