Harbhajan asked to stay away from Bhajji Sports

Justice (retd.) Ajit Prakash Shah has directed the BCCI to take an "unequivocal undertaking" from Harbhajan Singh that he will, in no way, be involved in the management of Bhajji Sports.

Harbhajan Singh informed the ombudsman that the company Bhajji Sports was owned by his mother.   -  PTI

The office of the ombudsman of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has arrived at a decision on the conflict of interest allegation against Harbhajan Singh, whose mother, Avtar Kaur, owns ‘Bhajji Sports’, an apparel company which provides jerseys et al to six Ranji Trophy teams.

Justice (retd.) Ajit Prakash Shah has directed the BCCI to take an “unequivocal undertaking” from the off-spinner that he will, in no way, be involved in the management of Bhajji Sports.

The Hindu had, in its edition dated January 16th, 2016, reported the matter after Mumbai-based activist Niraj Gunde approached the ombudsman’s office with the complaint.

“It is important to acknowledge that the company, Bhajji Sports, was started before Mr. Singh’s present contract with the BCCI was signed, and before the present rules of conflict of interest were framed. However, 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 in 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,” the ombudsman said in his verdict.

Harbhajan had, in his reply to the allegation, informed the ombudsman that the company was owned by his mother.

The ombudsman also pointed out a disturbing trend. “The Ombudsman also notes that there are many cases along these lines that have been brought to the attention of the Ombudsman, involving cricketers, selectors, coaches, and administrators, at the national level as well as among affiliated bodies. In fact, allegations of conflict of interest along these lines appear to be emerging from the State level more that from the national level. The Ombudsman recommends that all concerned individuals (cricketers, selectors, coaches, and administrators) should be required to make standard disclosures about their affiliations in the context of the conflict of interest rules (which may pertain, for example, to cricket coaching/training academies, sports management companies, sports apparel manufacturers, etc.). If the disclosures reveal that an individual does have such an association, they may be asked to either terminate their association with such companies/academies, or asked to resign from their position as cricketer/selector/coach/administrator, as covered by the conflict of interest rules,” he added.