In the past 10 months, retired Justice AP Shah, the ombudsman appointed by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), has been flooded with complaints alleging conflict of interest against administrators, members, coaches, selectors and cricketers.
The ombudsman has passed an order in six cases out of the in 38 complaints till Sunday. However, when HT examined whether the ombudsman’s orders have been implemented, it was noticed that the orders have either been ignored or not completely put into practice thus raising a serious concern.
Since Justice (retired) AP Shah’s appointment in last November, the BCCI ombudsman has given a ruling in six conflict of interest cases till Sunday. here’s a lowdown on their current status:
HARBHAJAN’S BHAJJI SPORTS CONNECTION
The issue: India’s veteran off-spinner, who floated Bhajji Sports, a sports apparel company in 2013, came under the scanner for its association with six domestic teams. The cricketer in his reply said that the company was owned by his mother Avtar Kaur.
Ombudsman’s order: Given the facts and circumstances of the case, the ombudsman believes that the best course of action may be that the BCCI take an unequivocal undertaking from Mr Singh that he will no way be involved in the management of the company, Bhajji Sports, and that under no circumstances will he be associated with the company’s products (including by way of sponsorship), so long as his contract with the BCCI is alive.
Current status: Harbhajan is often seen promoting Bhajji Sports products on the social media. As recently as on Saturday, Harbhajan unveiled a new hoodie jacket of his company via his Twitter and Instagram accounts. Recently, he also launched a new fashion line of the brand.
Bhajji Sports director Vikram Sidhu defended the star off-spinner’s connection with the brand. “He has no commercial interest whatsoever. He promotes our products as any other brand ambassador. Since we are not a very big company, we don’t pay him (Harbhajan) any fee to promote our products. We make good clothes and equipment for him which he likes to use. That’s it,” said Sidhu.
PRASAD’S ACADEMY INTEREST
The issue: The ombudsman found the former India pacer Venkatesh Prasad, who is currently the chairman of the junior selection committee, guilty of conflict of interest for his role in a private academy.
Ombudsman’s order: Prasad is given the option of either giving up his role as national selector or completely disassociating from the Starting Line Sports and Education Private Ltd that owns the SLS Academy for Cricket Excellence. The ombudsman directs the BCCI to take note of this order (May 31) and take necessary action at the earliest.
Current status: Prasad still features as a co-founder on the academy’s website. Sujith Somasundar, co-founder, told HT: “Venky (Venkatesh) is thoroughly focusing on his job at hand which is the junior selection chief. He only had a role in conceptualising the academy when it started. He takes no part in coaching the boys whatsoever. He has also relinquished his shares in the company as per the ombudsman’s order.”
BHAT’S DUAL ROLE
The issue: Former India left-arm spinner Raghuram Bhat’s role as managing committee member of Kartnataka State Cricket Association, chairman/member of the under-14 and under-16 selection committee wiz-a-wiz his involvement with private academies (Brijesh Patel Cricket Academy and the IDBI Academy) in Bangalore has come under the ombudsman’s scanner.
Ombudsman’s order: The Ombudsman therefore directs KSCA to ask Bhat to forthwith disassociate himself from both the Brijesh Patel Cricket Academy and the IDBI Bowling Foundation. In the event that Bhat decides to continue his association with either academy, or any other cricket academy, then he cannot continue in his position as chairman of selectors for the U-16 team.
Current status: KSCA secretary Brijesh Patel said Bhat is doing an honorary service at the academy. “He is doing an honorary job at the academy and only takes allowance. He is a full time U-16 selector,” said Patel. In a tongue-in-cheek comment, Patel said: “He is now going to take up kabaddi. I hope there is no conflict in that now.”
HCA PRESIDENT, SECRETARY IN CONFLICT
The issue: Hyderabad Cricket Association (HCA) president Arshad Ayub and its secretary K John Manoj came under the ombudsman’s ruling. It was alleged that Ayub and Manoj run private academies. Manoj is accused of employing his academy coaches to the state teams in the last season. HCA vice-president Narender Goud has been accused of employing his son and close relatives with the association.
Ombudsman’s order: Ayub has been advised to choose between HCA role and academy. In Manoj and Goud’s cases, the ombudsman asked the BCCI to examine these appointments and the process in which they were appointed.
Current status: These individuals continue to occupy their positions with the HCA. Ayub clarified that he has distanced himself from his academy. “I have removed my name from the academy and have no commercial interest in it. Badri Alam Khadri, who was one of the secretaries of the academy earlier, now looks after every aspect of the academy. I will give a reply to the BCCI when it is asked for,” said Ayub.
Manoj said his reply is ready and will furnish the same when the BCCI asks for it.