The Committee of Administrators (CoA) on Thursday formed a three-member panel to probe the allegation of sexual harassment against BCCI CEO Rahul Johri but chairman Vinod Rai stood in the way of his sacking which was demanded by his fellow COA member among others. The Vinod Rai-led COA, which has former women's captain Diana Edulji as the only other member, said that Johri has submitted his response to the show-cause notice issued against him after an anonymous account of the alleged incident came up on social media.
The panel set up by the COA comprises former Allahabad High Court judge Justice Rakesh Sharma, who has been named chairman, Delhi Commission for Women chairperson Barkha Singh and former CBI Director PC Sharma.
It has been given 15 days to submit a report and will also examine "all allegations of sexual harassment against Johri while he was employed with the BCCI". Edulji and seven BCCI state units wanted Johri to be sacked but Rai said a probe is necessary before a call is taken on that.
The post by the accuser, who claimed to be Johri's ex-colleague at a previous job, has been deleted by the twitter handle that originally shared it. "...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 COA said in a statement.
The COA said that Johri submitted his explanation on October 20 denying that the alleged incident ever took place. The COA met on October 20 and 22 to consider the matter where Edulji demanded Johri's removal.
Diana Edulji expressed her 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 resigns or his contract be terminated.
"The Chairman of the COA did not agree and felt that an independent inquiry was necessary as the tweet was anonymous," the COA statement said.
Rai also felt that since the charge on social media related to his previous job, with the Discovery channel, it was only fair that a probe is conducted.
"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," the statement read.
Edulji differed with Rai and felt that "considering the details and nature of the allegation, there were sufficient grounds for Johri's removal".
"Ms Edulji informed the Chairman she would approach Learned Amicus Curiae Shri Gopal Subramanium for further guidance if no action is taken and the CEO is allowed to continue," the COA statement added.
Johri will continue to remain on leave until the independent committee submits its report and a decision is taken on its findings. Earlier, the state units of Saurashtra, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, and Goa wrote to the COA, demanding Johri's removal.