Monday, 30th October 2017

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The heat is again on CEO Johri

He has already been at the centre of an inquiry into grave allegations of sexual harassment by two women

By Lokendra Pratap Sahi in Calcutta
  • Published 1.05.19, 2:34 AM
  • Updated 1.05.19, 2:34 AM
  • 3 mins read
  •  
Rahul Johri The Telegraph picture

Nobody in the cricket fraternity knows anything about the New Delhi-based Rashmi Nair, but she has become the first woman to move the Supreme Court seeking “Directions” against Rahul Johri, CEO of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).

Ms Nair’s rather ballistic “Intervention Application” was listed for April 25, but the two-member Bench featuring Justices Sharad Arvind Bobde and Abhay Manohar Sapre didn’t take up the BCCI matter.

As of now, the Supreme Court resumes hearing the BCCI case on Thursday, when the fate of Ms Nair’s “Intervention Application” would be known.

In her “Application for Directions,” a copy of which has been with The Telegraph, Ms Nair has described Johri as “nothing but a wolf in sheep’s clothing, a sexual predator who preys on...”

Damning to say the least and it’s bound to again give Johri sleepless nights after some months of calm.

Johri, after all, has already been at the centre of an inquiry into grave allegations of sexual harassment by two women, both of whom reside overseas, last October-November.

A so-called Independent Committee returned a 2-1 verdict in Johri’s favour. He stayed on as the CEO despite the recommendation by Ms Veena Gowda, one of the three members of the Independent Committee, that he “undergo some sort of gender sensitivity counselling/training.”

It’s unlikely that any other organisation would have retained a CEO requiring gender sensitivity counselling/training, but the BCCI obviously is in an entirely different league.

Or, rather, the BCCI has been so in Vinod Rai’s regime.

Retired bureaucrat Rai heads the three-member Committee of Administrators, appointed by the Supreme Court more than two years ago, and he ensured Johri remained where he was.

There were only two Administrators — Diana Edulji being the other — till February 21, when Lt General (Retd) Ravi Thodge got appointed.

Diana wanted Johri sacked, but her views were trampled upon by Rai, best known in the cricket fraternity as Johri’s benefactor.

Ms Nair, in fact, has prayed that Johri be “relieved of his post” in the interest of a “fair and just probe” while Justice (Retd) D.K. Jain, the BCCI’s Ombudsman, reviews the findings of the Independent Committee or the Supreme Court appoints a “new Committee” to inquire into the allegations of sexual harassment.

The six-point prayer, moved by Ms Nair, can be summarised as follows:

  • That the Supreme Court call for “all records of the deposition” before the Independent Committee “to see whether his (Johri’s) discharge was correct or not.”

[Both women complainants deposed on Skype and both have been denied copies of the Independent Committee’s report. Denied by Rai, to be specific.

But why? Why not be fair to the complainants? Isn’t it their right to be provided a copy of the report? Rai should answer.]

  • The Supreme Court “direct the Ombudsman” to call for all the records of the deposition and the report of the Independent Committee to see whether the discharge was actually correct or not.
  • That the Supreme Court “also direct the Ombudsman to look into the allegations levelled against Mr Johri by various other women in the BCCI and in the earlier organisation where he was working.” That the victims be given a chance to depose.
  • As an alternative (to the above), the Supreme Court appoint a “new Committee under its aegis to look into the allegations levelled against Mr Johri” by women not only in the BCCI but in the “other organisation.” The last bit appears to be a reference to Discovery.
  • “In the meanwhile, for a fair and just probe, Mr Johri should be relieved of his post.”
  • That the Supreme Court “pass such an order or orders” it “deems fit and proper.”

It’s odd that the three office-bearers of the BCCI — acting president C.K. Khanna, acting secretary Amitabh Choudhary and treasurer Anirudh Chaudhry — have not called for Johri to step aside till the Supreme Court has disposed of Ms Nair’s “Intervention Application.”

All three should have roared in unison, but there hasn’t been a word from any one of them. What’s cooking, one wonders.

By the way, it surely cannot be insignificant that Justice Bobde heads the three-member “in-house” panel of the Supreme Court which is examining a sacked employee’s allegation that CJI Ranjan Gogoi sexually harassed her.