Supreme Court: No special hearing in Rahul Johri sexual harassment case

A petition filed in the apex court stated there was there was every reason for the BCCI Ombudsman D. K. Jain to revisit the case against Johri, the Board’s CEO.

Rahul Johri “had a very colourful past in each and every organisation where he worked,” according to the petition.   -  Vivek Bendre

The Supreme Court of India on Thursday refused any special hearing on allegations of sexual harassment against Rahul Johri, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) CEO.

Rashmi Nair, who claims to be a women-issue activist, had filed the petition in the apex court and had insisted that there was every reason for the BCCI Ombudsman D. K. Jain to revisit the case against Johri. Johri had been given a clean chit by a three-member probe committee in November, 2018.

“Johri had a very colourful past in each and every organisation where he worked and he managed to get away with all allegations of sexual harassment levelled against him by threat, coercion or greed,” the petition read.

Difference of opinion

The petitioner sought to know why the Ombudsman was not being handed the matter for investigation. Nair, in her petition, cited three women who had raised the issue. “The three women came for deposition but for some reason one woman did not depose and the other two deposed against Johri. After this team carried out the investigation, there was a difference of opinion between members — Justice (retd.) Rakesh Sharma, Barkha Singh and Veena Gowda — and giving the benefit of doubt and clean chit despite one member (Gowda) found him guilty (sic).”

Read | BCCI CEO, legal team to be present if Tendulkar, Laxman are called for hearing

In the report of the independent inquiry on sexual harassment charges, two members — Rakesh Sharma and Barkha Singh — had cleared him of all charges. Gowda, the third member, however, had said, “the conduct of 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.”

Johri had gone to the U.K. during the 2017 Champions Trophy.

‘Natural consequence’

A senior BCCI official had questioned the virtuousness of the Independent Committee itself as one of the members — Barkha Singh — was already a chairperson of the internal complaints committee of the Delhi & Districts Cricket Association (DDCA) when appointed in the panel to look into allegations against Johri.

After the conclusion of the inquiry, the committee submitted its report to the Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA). This was published on the BCCI’s website. It read: “Since there is no consensus between the two members of the CoA regarding what action should be taken against Rahul Johri, the chairman stated that the natural consequence would be that Johri continues as the CEO of BCCI and is entitled to resume office. Diana Edulji (of the CoA) disagreed with this. However, the chairman reiterated that Rahul Johri should continue as the CEO of BCCI and resume his duties as a natural consequence.”

In her petition, Nair said there was every reason for Jain to revisit the case against Johri.