Why Pandya-Rahul ‘Koffee’ Inquiry Reached The Supreme Court
Video Editor: Mohd Ibrahim
Two cricketers went on a chat show, made some extremely immature and sexist comments and were suspended by the BCCI, pending an inquiry.
It's now been almost two weeks since the episode went on air. The players have missed three ODIs. And the investigation? Well, it has reached the Supreme Court the highest judicial body of India.
Yes, the Supreme Court of India, not the BCCI or the CoA or the multiple levels of committees in Indian cricket, but the Supreme Court is expected to help decide the consequences of some sexist remarks made by two cricketers on a chat show.
That is where Indian cricket currently stands.
Because after showdowns on Rahul Johri’s Me Too case verdict and the appointment of the women’s cricket coach Diana Edulji and Vinod Rai’s infighting has now trickled into very dangerous territory. The Indian cricket team in a year of the World Cup.
And this is how this case has reached the Supreme Court.
On a TV show aired on 6 January, Hardik Pandya and KL Rahul made some extremely sexist, misogynistic and immature comments.
Three days later, Vinod Rai, the CoA’s chief, suggested over an internal email that both players be banned for two matches and asked Diana Edulji for her opinion, who looped in the legal team for the way forward.
The legal team suggested that CEO Rahul Johri carry out a preliminary inquiry and then pass on his report to an ‘ad hoc Ombudsman' who would decide the fate of the players. "Ad hoc" since the post has been lying vacant since 2016 when Justice AP Shah finished his tenure.
Now, 6 days after the show went on air, the CoA finally made the decision to suspend the players and call them back to India.
But who conducts the inquiry?
Based on the legal counsel, Vinod Rai asked Rahul Johri to start the investigation and also suggested the CoA appoint the ‘ad hoc Ombudsman’ after consulting the SC-appointed Amicus.
This is when the trouble starts.
Diana Edulji, in an email, said she feels “it's bad optics” to let someone like Johri who had "grave sexual allegations levied against him” to conduct the inquiry. She said appointing an ad hoc Ombudsman was against the BCCI’s constitution and instead suggested the CoA carry out the investigation with three Office Bearers or the board’s Secretary.
Vinod Rai then vetoes this by shooting an email saying "It cannot be the case that we follow legal advice only when we consider it 'justifiable'. I cannot be a party to such an inquiry as I will not go against a Supreme Court direction/constitution.”
Sidenote: BCCI’s CEO Rahul Johri had a “Me Too” complaint against him a few months back and after the investigation Diana Edulji wanted him to be asked to leave Vinod Rai wanted him to resume office. And he did.
Coming back to now, and this is where the CoA stands.
Diana Edulji’s proposal for the CoA to investigate the players has been shot down by Vinod Rai. His proposal to appoint an ad hoc Ombudsman has been shot down by Edulji, and the two bickering members of the CoA have now asked the Supreme Court to step in and appoint an Ombudsman – the matter is now set to come up next week
At this point, both players have already missed an entire ODI series and will now miss the start of the New Zealand tour as well.
Series that were supposed to help the Indian team decide the correct composition for the World Cup this summer.
And why? Because a two-member CoA entrusted with running Indian cricket can’t even make a decision on how to reprimand two players. Or, in fact, differentiate between the sexist and misogynistic comments made by one Hardik Pandya from the, at most, toxic enabling that KL Rahul indulged in.