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Rahul Johri Probe Verdict: Curious Case of Missing Point ‘A’ in Member’s Recommendations

Meha Bhardwaj |November 30, 2018, 10:57 AM IST
Rahul Johri Probe Verdict: Curious Case of Missing Point ‘A’ in Member’s Recommendations

Even as Rahul Johri resumes his duties as BCCI CEO, questions continue to be asked about the process that was followed by the three-member independent panel in reaching the conclusion that he was not guilty of the sexual harassment allegations levelled against him. In particular, the observations of Lawyer-Activist Veena Gowda, a member of the panel, are increasingly becoming the focus of attention.

Extracts from the Findings/Recommendations of the Independent Inquiry Committee have been uploaded to the BCCI website and Gowda’s findings make for curious reading. She has made three observations, identified as bullet points - A, B & C. Inexplicably, bullet point A has been removed entirely from the report uploaded to the BCCI website. The other two make some scathing observations about Johri:

b) 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.

c) 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.

CricketNext has learnt that point A roughly translates to: “The internal complaint made by a BCCI employee was not handled as per the law by the COA and the BCCI. They went ahead and closed the concerns of the complainant without following the correct process and the COA and the BCCI should be held accountable for it.”

To verify the above, CricketNext contacted the two members of the Committee of Administrators (CoA), Chairman Vinod Rai and Diana Edulji, via email. However, they are yet to respond to our request for a comment.

Gowda’s recommendation was made in the context of an incident from earlier this year when a female employee of BCCI complained to Rai and Edulji about facing harassment from Johri. It is believed that after a “written apology” from Johri and persuasion from Rai and Edulji, this employee withdrew her resignation and continues to serve in the board, though she is no longer reporting directly to Johri.

Gowda’s recommendation, that has been removed from the report, alludes to the failure of the CoA to follow “due process” in dealing with the complaint. For instance, an Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) wasn’t set up, as per the norm in dealing with such matters and the issue was dealt with only by Rai and Edulji. This complainant was also not asked to depose in front of the panel, who heard from two other complainants via skype and reached its conclusion that the charges were “"mischievous and fabricated."

Rai’s handling of the entire process is also being questioned within the BCCI. While Edulji has publicly stated her differences with him on the matter, insisting that Johri either resign or be asked to leave, Rai first formed this panel against her wishes and then reinstated Johri despite Gowda’s observations about his conduct being “unprofessional and inappropriate.” Gowda recommendation that since this would “adversely affect” the reputation of BCCI, “concerned authorities” must look at the matter was also ignored.

Rai in his opinion, available on the BCCI website, instead highlights that Gowda has not found Johri guilty of sexual harassment and while she recommends that he be “counselled”, there is no recommendation to “take any other action against him.”

A highly-placed source said that the way this entire process has played out, it has become apparent that Rai has usurped all authority within the BCCI and CoA. And that by allowing Johri to return to his job, an unhealthy precedent has been set on how such issues are to be dealt with in the future.

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