New Delhi: The suspension saga involving Hardik Pandya and KL Rahul took another twist on Saturday after BCCI acting president CK Khanna refused to convene a Special General Meeting for the appointment of an ombudsman as the matter is sub-judice.
Pandya and Rahul have been suspended pending an inquiry for their sexist comments on a TV chat show and the matter is pending in the Supreme Court. The Committee of Administrators running the BCCI wants Supreme Court to appoint an ombudsman to decide the fate of Pandya and Rahul.
Around 14 state units, mainly former BCCI president N Srinivasan's loyalists, had requested Khanna to convene an emergent SGM, which needs to be called in 10 days.
Treasurer Anirudh Chaudhry also wrote to Khanna requesting for an early SGM, so that board members can take a call on the appointment of ombudsman.
Khanna, in his reply, made it clear that since the matter is sub-judice, he would like to wait.
"As per constitution of the BCCI, an ombudsman can be appointed at the Annual General Meeting (AGM). And moreover the matter (of an appointment of ombudsman) is already sub-judice," Khanna replied to Chaudhry.
Khanna also sought BCCI acting secretary Amitabh Choudhary's view and he also quoted article 40 of the new constitution on the appointment of ombudsman.
"Why would Khanna or Amitabh sign the notice for convening Special General Meeting when the matter is in Supreme Court. There would be a risk of Contempt of Court," a senior BCCI official privy to the development told PTI on conditions of anonymity.
However, the official agreed that CoA chief Vinod Rai shouldn't have vetoed co-member Diana Edulji and taken a call on quantum of suspension for the two suspended cricketers.
"As per protocol, Mr Rai sought Diana's suggestion but he could easily overrule her view of getting a legal opinion, which started this mess. He (Rai) could have easily done what he did in the women's coach selection case," the official observed.
The acting president has written a letter to CoA, requesting them to let Pandya and Rahul play till quantum of punishment is decided.
"I urge for a meeting/discussion between Committee of Administrators and the office bearers to resolve this issue on priority," Khanna wrote.
"What Mr. Hardik Pandya said and Mr. K.L. Rahul acted as a by-stander to is inappropriate and absolutely wrong, but in my personal opinion, to treat them like lawbreakers is wrong too," he wrote.
"They made a mistake, and they have already been suspended and called back from the series against Australia. They have also submitted an unconditional apology.
"For the interest of the Indian cricket in mind, the deplorable off ground activity of the players requires immediate corrective action but we must not keep their careers in limbo," said Khanna.
The acting president then suggested that pending inquiry, they should be brought back on to the field.
"I suggest that pending inquiry we reinstate both the cricketers into the Indian squad immediately and allow them to join the team in New Zealand at the earliest.
"Both these cricketers need game time before the World Cup which starts in four months time. We should give these growing cricketers chance to correct themselves morally," he signed off.
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Captaining the side with Virat Kohli only taking the field to bowl, Rohit Sharma (60 retired off 41) showed sublime touch alongside opening partner KL Rahul (39 off 31) as India chased down Australia's 152 for five.
Pandya's fitness is a concern heading into the tournament as he did not bowl at all in the IPL. The team management has repeatedly stated that Pandya's bowling is crucial for the team's balance.
India play their next game against New Zealand on 31 October, which gives Hardik enough time to recover in case the injury is not serious.