Three-member panel to probe harassment charges against Johri

The independent panel has been asked to submit report in the next 15 days and the BCCI CEO will continue to remain on leave.

BCCI CEO, Rahul Johri will continue to remain on leave till the panel submits its report.   -  V. Raju

The Committee of Administrators (CoA) has formed a three-member panel which will inquire into the allegations of sexual harassment against the BCCI CEO, Rahul Johri.

The committee will be headed by Justice Rakesh Sharma (former judge, Allahabad High Court), and the other two members are - former chairperson of Delhi Commission for Women, Barkha Singh and former CBI director, P.C. Sharma. In a statement issued late on Thursday, the CoA said the independent committee will have to submit its report, containing findings and recommendations within 15 days. Johri has already submitted his explanation on October 20 and has denied the allegations.

He has not been attending office ever since the allegations were raised by an anonymous person on social media a couple of weeks ago, and will continue to remain on leave until the above independent committee submits its report and the same is acted upon.

Read: Seven BCCI state units write to CoA chief Rai demanding Johri's suspension

“The independent committee may take into account and/or probe all allegations of sexual harassment against Mr. Johri while he was employed with the BCCI. All facts and alleged transgressions may be placed before the committee. The committee will be free to seek any record or evidence that it desires. Any person desiring to place any fact before the committee is also free to do so,” the CoA said.

The statement also indicated that during its meetings held earlier this week, the two members of the CoA -- Vinod Rai and Diana Edulji were not on the same page on this matter.

“The Chairman of the COA (Rai) felt that in order to follow due process of law and principles of natural justice, an independent committee comprising of distinguished persons who are knowledgeable in this field should conduct a fair and transparent inquiry on an arm’s length basis and submit a report containing its findings and recommendation on the way forward,” the statement read.

However, Edulji was of the view that "since the CEO has such grave sexual harassment allegations against him, it would not be in the interests of BCCI and Indian cricket that he represents BCCI." In view of this, she suggested that 'he (Johri) resigns or his contract be terminated'.

But the chairman of CoA did not agree and felt that an independent inquiry was necessary as the tweet was anonymous. It also pertained to a period much before the CEO joined BCCI and it was necessary to provide natural justice to the CEO by following a due process of law. The chairman was very clear that in similar instances, the person against whom allegations had been made, were permitted to represent their case before an independent committee which would then take a considered view after weighing all evidence. However, Edulji felt that neither is such an inquiry called for nor is it appropriate.

After taking legal advice as well as soliciting view-points from other relevant quarters, the proposed members of independent committee were contacted for their consent. “All three proposed members have now given their consent to be part of the independent committee,” the statement read.