Hardik Pandya, K.L. Rahul tender unconditional apology; BCCI members demand SGM

Acting president C.K. Khanna received requisitions from 10 state units demanding a Special General Meeting at the earliest.

Hardik Pandya and K.L. Rahul have been suspended for their comments during celebrity lifestyle show “Koffee With Karan.”   -  twitter

Suspended cricketers Hardik Pandya and K. L. Rahul tendered “unconditional” apologies for their sexist comments on the TV show, Koffee With Karan, on Monday. Despite the apologies, 10 BCCI units — led by the Saurashtra Cricket Association — has started pressurising acting president C.K. Khanna to call for a Special General Meeting to appoint the ombudsman, who is supposed to conduct disciplinary proceedings according to the new BCCI rulebook.

Fearing a "cover up" in the controversy, Vinod Rai’s fellow CoA member Diana Edulji had pressed for a joint probe by the BCCI and the CoA.  Rai said that the BCCI should correct the two players, and not end their careers.

“Yes, Hardik and Rahul have submitted their reply to the fresh showcause notices that were served to them. They have tendered unconditional apology. The CoA chief has instructed the CEO to conduct an inquiry as per clause 41 (c) of the new BCCI constitution,” a senior BCCI official said on condition of anonymity.

READ: BCCI suspends Hardik Pandya, KL Rahul with immediate effect

In the show, hosted by filmmaker Karan Johar, the cricketers spoke about hookups with multiple women and being casual about it even with their parents. The comments have been described as “inappropriate” by India skipper Virat Kohli.

Brought back midway from the tour of Australia, Pandya and Rahul’s immediate fate hangs in balance with the World Cup less than four months away.

“Please be assured that the desire to conduct the inquiry is not a desire to ‘cover up’ The interest of cricket in India has to be kept in mind. The off the ground act of the players was deplorable. It was crass as I said immediately after reading the comments,” Rai wrote.

“It is our responsibility to reprimand them, take corrective action, sensitise them of their misdemeanour and then get them back on to the ground once they have suffered the consequences."

READ: Shankar, Shubman Gill replace KL Rahul, Pandya

“We have shamed them by recalling them from an ongoing tour. We have suspended them from further games. We need to correct them and not bring their career to a cul de sac by indefinitely delaying a decision. These misdemeanours require swift action, with a corrective approach."

Following the BCCI constitution, Rai instructed BCCI CEO Rahul Johri to carry out a preliminary inquiry but Edulji feels Johri, because of past allegations of sexual harassment against him, should not be entrusted with the task.

READ: Vinod Rai recommends two-ODI ban for Hardik Pandya, K. L. Rahul

“The CEO must fulfil his duty as per Rule 41(C) and conduct the inquiry after receiving the explanation of the players. He must ensure that the norms of natural justice are fulfilled,” Rai said.

The e-mail also states that a request has been made to the Supreme Court to appoint an ombudsman for the case, on advice of the legal team.

“During the 17th (January) hearing, we request the hon Court to appoint an ombudsman. However, in the unlikely event of the Hon. Court not being able to appoint the ombudsman in the hearing scheduled for the 17th Jan, 2019, we must go ahead and appoint an ad-hoc ombudsman as per legal advice received by us.

“The ombudsman, so appointed, can take a final view on the players based on the inquiry report submitted by the CEO,” he wrote.

Demand for SGM

As per the new constitution, the acting secretary can call an SGM on 21 days’ notice but if it has to be an Emergent SGM within 10 days, the acting president in this case has to convene the meeting.

“It will be interesting what call Khanna will take. If I remember, he once didn’t sign the minutes of SGM fearing that it would be in violation of Supreme Court orders. On another occasion, he didn’t even attend an SGM,” a state unit member, who was present during both the meetings, said.

“There is a possibility that Khanna may instruct Amitabh Chaudhary to call a normal SGM with 21 days’ notice which a secretary is allowed to,” he added.

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