Manohar, Thakur in potential conflict situations

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‘Detailed recommendations on conflict of interest’

Every member of the BCCI’s top brass, including its president and secretary, could potentially be involved in situations of conflict of interest, going by the Lodha Committee’s yardstick. The committee has dedicated five pages of its report to the issue of conflicts, detailing its various forms and illustrating with various examples where not just the BCCI and state association administrators, but even employees, players, selectors and commentators could be in breach of the various rules.

While the report does not name anyone, some of its examples clearly point to high-profile officials. These include Shashank Manohar (the BCCI president), Anurag Thakur (secretary), Anirudh Chaudhry (treasurer), Amitabh Choudhary (joint secretary), Rajiv Shukla (IPL chairman) and former India captain Sourav Ganguly (IPL Governing Council).

According to the committee a conflict of interest constitutes the following forms as far as any individual associated with the BCCI is concerned: direct or indirect interest, roles compromised, commercial conflict, prior relationship and position of influence.

According to Lodha, there are broadly two types of conflict of interest: tractable and intractable. “Tractable can be resolved by recusal or disclosure,” he said. “Intractable would be the one which can’t be resolved by either of these two and that can only be done by cessation of the COI.”

Lodha said a proposed ethics officer would be the one-man jury to determine conflict as well as any penalty.

The committee presented various examples to highlight the type of conflict, and left it to readers’ judgement to determine which cases might fall under each category. A case of indirect conflict, the committee said, could be: “C is a Member of the IPL Governing Council. The IPL enters into a contract with a new franchisee, the Managing Director of which is C’s partner in an independent commercial venture. C is hit by Indirect Conflict of Interest.”

Ganguly could fall under this definition of conflict: he is part of the IPL Governing Council and is also a co-owner of Atletico de Kolkata, a football club owned by Sanjiv Goenka, who recently bid successfully for the Pune IPL franchise. While both Goenka and Ganguly have brushed off any suggestions that this is a case of conflict, the Lodha committee believes otherwise.

Expanding on what constitutes “roles compromised”, the committee said: “when the individual holds two separate or distinct posts or positions under the BCCI, a Member, the IPL or the Franchisee, the functions of which would require the one to be beholden to the other, or in opposition thereof.”

It further gave the example of “B is Secretary of the BCCI. He is also President of a State Association. B is hit by Conflict of Interest.” Thakur is the BCCI secretary as well as president of the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association.

Falling under the same category is the case of “A is the Coach of a team. He is also Coach of an IPL Franchisee. A is hit by Conflict of Interest.” India coaches Sanjay Bangar (batting), Bharat Arun (bowling) and R Sridhar (fielding) also hold coaching positions at IPL franchises.

The committee also gave examples of officials at various state associations who could fall under the “positions of influence” category of conflict.

“B is the Secretary of a State Association. He also runs a cricket academy in the State. B is hit by Conflict of Interest,” the committee said. There are numerous administrators at state associations who own or have a stake in various city-based clubs across India.

The committee said it was high time administrators stopped holding dual posts. “Strangely, while conflict of interest issues have been at the heart of recent controversies, virtually all office bearers of the BCCI continue to be office bearers in their respective State Associations at the same time,” the committee noted. “Presidents and Secretaries of State Associations are to discharge functions with the primary interest of the State in mind, but as BCCI office bearers, these interests would have to be subordinated to that of national interest. Often, with powers centred on an office bearer, that individual has been found to appoint his State associates to critical posts in the BCCI, thereby creating an imbalance.”

Offering a solution, the committee said such conflicts could be avoided “by automatic vacation” of post at the local level when an official is elected to the BCCI.

While Manohar does not hold dual posts, he could be in a situation of conflict since his son is the vice-president of the Vidarbha Cricket Association. The committee report states: “When the BCCI, a Member, the IPL or a Franchisee enter into contractual arrangements with entities in which the individual concerned or his/her relative, partner or close associate has an interest. This is to include cases where family members, partners or close associates are in positions that may, or may be seen to compromise an individual’s participation, performance and discharge of roles.”

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Source: ESPN Crickinfo

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