BCCI CoA divided after probe panel dismisses sexual harassment allegations against CEO Rahul Johri
Rahul Johri was accused of sexual harassment in an anonymous social media post, which has since been deleted. He denied the allegation in response to the showcause notice issued by the COA.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) on Wednesday dismissed the sexual harassment allegations against the cricketing body’s Chief Executive Officer, Rahul Johri, after two out of the three members of the probe panel looking into the allegations decided to give Johri a clean chit. The Committee of Administrators (CoA) though is divided on the issue.
The panel that probed allegations against Johri comprised former Allahabad High Court judge Justice Rakesh Sharma, former Delhi Commission for Women chairperson Barkha Singh and lawyer Veena Gowda.
CoA chief Vinod Rai alluded to the specific recommendation of Justice Rakesh Sharma (Retd.), the Chairman of the probe panel, in which he has stated that it would be premature, unjust and unfair to recommend any action against Mr. Rahul Johri on the basis of material placed before the Committee. He pointed out that in the considered opinion of Justice Rakesh Sharma (Retd.) and Smt. Barkha Singh, Mr. Rahul Johri may be permitted to function as the CEO of BCCI as before.
However, Diana Edulji has said that she does not agree with the conclusions of Justice Rakesh Sharma (Retd.) and Smt. Barkha Singh. She alluded to the finding in Ms. Gowda’s recommendations to the effect that as a CEO of an institution such as BCCI, the unprofessional and inappropriate conduct of Mr. Johri would adversely affect the reputation of BCCI. Edulji pointed out it has been her stand right from the beginning that the reputation of BCCI is of prime importance. In the circumstances, Edulji said that 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.
“The complainants have failed to provide their cases as set up by them and we (me and Smt. Barkha Singh) are of the opinion that Mr. Rahul Johri has not abused his powers. The allegations of sexual harassment in the office or else where are false, baseless and have been fabricated and manufactured with an ulterior motive to harm Mr. Rahul Johri and throw him out of BCCI as indicated in some communications, and reactions expressed in the e-mails, statements in the press,” Retd. Justice of Justice Rakesh Sharma said in his recommendations after looking at all the depositions made in front of the probe panel.
Barkha Singh too opined in favour of Johri and recommended that the BCCI must set up a Grievance redressal committee to look into such matters in future.
“I would like to place on record that in my nine years of tenure as “Chairperson of Delhi Commission for Women”, I have come across many incidents and supported the cause of a women. It becomes our duty for providing equal opportunity for woman at work place. In my opinion, such kind of motivated and fabricated allegations will diminish the status of women and the job opportunity for them. Such complaints will also have an adverse effect on the fight for equality for women.
“Setting such precedents will only make it more difficult for achieving equality and equal opportunity for women. Therefore, I am in full agreement with the views and opinion of my senior esteemed colleague Hon’ble Mr. Justice Rakesh Sharma. I am of the opinion that a “Grievance redressal committee/ cell” may be constituted in BCCI in the interest of women employees,” Mrs Singh said in her recommendation.
The third member of panel, lawyer Veena Gowda, though had a different opinion on the matter. “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.”
“In view of his conduct at Birmingham as well as keeping in mind the allegations made by Ms. X and his conduct before this Committee with respect to the photographs submitted, it is essential that Mr. Johri undergo some form of gender sensitivity counselling/ training,” Ms Gowda opined.
Johri was accused of sexual harassment in an anonymous social media post, which has since been deleted. He denied the allegation in response to the showcause notice issued by the COA.