Hardik Pandya and K.L. Rahul have been suspended pending an inquiry into their controversial comments on women during a TV show, effectively ruling them out of the ODI series against Australia starting on Saturday. Though the duration of suspension is not known yet, the cricketers, who have stirred a controversy with their sexist remarks on Koffee with Karan, are likely to miss the limited-overs tour of New Zealand, too.
“... you are hereby suspended with immediate effect from participating in any manner whatsover in any match or function or event or activity that is authorised, sanctioned, recognised or supported in any way by the BCCI, ICC or any state association until final adjudication of the matter," said the fresh show-cause notice sent by the Committee of Administrators to both the players individually, and to skipper Virat Kohli, coach Ravi Shastri and team manager Sunil Subramanium, and all office-bearers of the BCCI.
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The all-rounder, during the show, had boasted about hooking up with multiple women and being open about it with his parents. Rahul, to his credit, was a bit more restrained in his responses. Their comments on the show were criticised for being misogynist in nature and raised concerns over the Indian “team culture”.
The fresh show-cause notice was sent and the action taken against Pandya and Rahul based on the opinion of the BCCI's legal team. CoA member Diana Edulji had been particular about seeking legal opinion before taking a decision. "It is imperative that players be put under suspension till further course of action is decided for this misconduct as was done in case of [BCCI] CEO [Rahul Johri] when he was sent on leave on sexual harassment matter," Edulji said in response to the legal team's mail on Friday morning.
BCCI acting secretary Amitabh Choudhary had seconded Edulji's views in his email response saying, “I am in complete agreement with the views expressed by Ma'am Eduljee [sic].”
The players were sent a show-cause notice earlier by Johri, under the instruction of the CoA chairman Vinod Rai, who had recommended a two-match ban on the players. But it did not detail what clause of the player contract they had flouted by appearing on the show. The BCCI's legal team refused to declare the duo's comments a violation of the code of conduct.
Pandya had expressed regret and apologised for the remarks, in response to the earlier show-cause notice.
The BCCI legal team, quoting rule 41 (6) of the new BCCI constitution, had said that “the enquiry process against the concerned players has commenced and is pending. It is open for the CoA to suspend the concerned players (along with their privileges and benefits) pending enquiry and proceeding into the charges of misconduct until final adjudication. The suspension will however cease if the said adjudication is not completed within 6 months.”
The legal team has advised CoA to appoint an “adhoc Ombudsman with specific mandate to adjudicate on the matter”.
For the show-cause hearing, inquiry and adjudication of sentence—in the absence of a duly elected body and apex council—the the CEO of BCCI has to send separate communication to players seeking explanation from them within a specified period as to why they should not be proceeded against for misconduct and indiscipline under rule 41 of the constitution.
Then the CEO should submit the report to the CoA within 15 days from date of reference.
The developments come at a time when “concerned” members of the BCCI and several state associations are meeting in Mumbai to discuss the present situation in Indian cricket, and the infighting within the CoA.