Conflict of interest directives issued against BCCI employee, ex-cricketers

BCCI ombudsman finds board employee R.P. Shah and former India cricketers Rahul Sanghvi and Vijay Dahiya in a position of conflict of interest


Photo: Reuters
Photo: Reuters

New Delhi: The ombudsman of the Board for Control of Cricket in India (BCCI) has found an employee of the board, R.P. Shah, in a position of conflict of interest. Two former India cricketers—Rahul Sanghvi and Vijay Dahiya—have also been reprimanded by the ombudsman on the same charge.

Besides being a BCCI employee, Shah is also an independent director at the BG Shirke Construction Technology Pvt. Ltd, a Pune-based infrastructure company. The complaint against Shah was filed by a Mumbai-base activist Niraj Gunde earlier this year. It alleged that BG Shirke won a contract by the Mumbai Cricket Association, an affiliate of BCCI, for operating the recreation centre at its Bandra Kurla Complex facility on a build-operate-transfer basis.

Shah, an employee of BCCI since November 2011, was first employed with the board’s treasury department and moved to secretary’s office in April 2015. He was also the tournament manager (finance) of the recently concluded 2016 World Twenty20 tournament hosted by the BCCI.

In his defence, Shah told ombudsman, that he “became an independent director in Shirke Construction in September 2014, and that he was not involved in the day-to-day operations of the company”.

Defending his position, Shah claimed that “he held four paid-up equity shares in the equity capital of the company amounting to 0.00000011756% of the total issued and paid-up equity capital.”

He added that “M/s Shirke Infrastructure, a group concern of Shirke Construction, had entered into an arrangement with the Mumbai Cricket Association’s recreation centre at the Bandra-Kurla complex in Mumbai on a BOT basis”.

He stated that he had no connection or association with M/s Shirke Infrastructure, and that neither Shirke Construction, nor its group concern, M/s Shirke Infrastructure, had any commercial arrangement with the BCCI.”

The ombudsman, however, saw it differently.

In an order dated 31 March, the ombudsman said, “In these circumstances, Mr. Shah’s dual role appears to directly fall under Rule 4B of the conflict of interest rules, according to which Staff employed with the BCCI shall not [be] associated with any organization/company/institute/agency that has Commercial Relations with the BCCI or Affiliated unit.” Accordingly, this appears to be a clear case of conflict of interest.

The ombudsman ruled that Shah should give up his position as an independent director with the company with immediate effect. If he fails to do so, “his directorship would be in conflict with his employment with the BCCI”.

The Pune-based company declined to comment on whether Shah has quit the firm subsequent to the order.

In a separate order dated 12 March, the ombudsman ruled that Sanghvi’s role as selector of Delhi’s senior (Ranji Trophy) and under-23 teams was in conflict with his association with Indian Premier League (IPL) franchise, Mumbai Indians.

Sanghvi was appointed as one of the three selectors by the Delhi and Districts Cricket Association (DDCA) in September 2015. The tenure of his appointment was till the end of the season—March 2016.

The complaint against Sanghvi was filed by Kirti Azad, former India cricketer, who is also a Lok Sabha member of parliament from Darbhanga, Bihar.

Sanghvi, in his response to the notice issued in February, said his appointment as Delhi selector was “on a nomination basis and that he had not applied for appointment to be a selector”, adding that he was not drawing any remuneration from DDCA for his role.

He defended his role with the Mumbai Indians and said he was employed with the franchise in an administrative capacity as its team manager since the inception of the tournament. He said that his role was that of an “administrative nature, and he was not involved in coaching or selection.”

The ombudsman thereafter sought a clarification from the BCCI on its internal conflict of interest rules pertaining to Sanghvi’s case. The BCCI’s response said that “if the appointment of the cricketer was on an annual or long-term basis he could not accept any position with an IPL team, as it would be conflicted. However if the appointment of the cricketer was only for the season, and he was not contracted with the BCCI or an affiliated unit and the IPL team at the same time, the BCCI has permitted the same, at least for the time being.”

In his order, the ombudsman said, “Mr. Sanghvi appears to have a long-term appointment with the IPL team, Mumbai Indians. In the circumstances, and in view of the BCCI’s response, Mr Sanghvi’s simultaneous role as selector for DDCA (an affiliated unit) would be in violation of the conflict of interest rules.” But with the Indian domestic season coming to an end, Sanghvi received a minor reprieve.

The ombudsman also recommended that “where a retired cricketer already has an annual or long-term contract already in place, with an IPL team or an affiliated unit of the BCCI, a second contract with any of the other entities may not be entered into, in keeping with the views expressed by the BCCI.”

The conflict of interest complaint against Sanghvi’s ex-team mate and former Indian wicket-keeper Vijay Dahiva, who until recently was the coach of Delhi Ranji team, was also filed by Azad.

In his complaint, Azad alleged Dahiya also operates a private cricket academy ‘Vijay Dahiya Academy’ from the grounds of Delhi’s St. Stephens’ College. Azad alleged that Dahiya’s role as assistant coach for IPL franchise Kolkata Knight Riders was in conflict with his assignment as Delhi coach, given that he was involved in the selection process. The complaint further stated that Dahiya had owned a company called “Safe Hands Sports Management”, which dealt with cricketing equipment leading to further conflict of interest.

Dahiya, in his response, said that he did not run the academy and “by extension, also had not lent the grounds to DDCA for BCCI matches, as had been alleged by Mr. Azad”. He denied owning or holding any position in “Safe Hands Sports Management”.

In his order on 12 March, the ombudsman, while stating that the Vijay Dahiya Academy was run by his near relatives (father/brother) said, “Since the academy is named after Mr Dahiya, and it is run by his near relatives, and there are advertisements for the academy in Mr Dahiya’s name, it appears that the retired cricketer is closely associated with the academy.”

Dahiya’s case, the ombudsman suggested, could be used as a precedent for future cases where an academy is named after a cricketer and is run by a near relative of the said cricketer. The ombudsman also recommended that Dahiya provide a “clear undertaking that he is not, and will not be, associated in any way with the company “Safe Hands Sports Management”, so long as he is a coach or selector of a team, under the terms of the rules pertaining to the conflict of interest.”

To be sure, Dahiya is no longer involved with the Kolkata Knight Riders, with Australian Simon Katich replacing him as assistant coach for the upcoming season.