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BCCI ombudsman says he is getting many complaints with no merit

471   //    21 Jan 2016, 12:31 IST
Justice Ajit Prakash Shah was appointed as BCCI’s ombudsman

Ajit Prakash Shah was appointed as the ombudsman to look into the allegations of corruption in December as the BCCI was under pressure when the Lodha Committee was about to deliver its recommendations. The BCCI suggested some rules governing conflict of interest in the hope that the Supreme Court-appointed panel would take a lenient view of BCCI’s administration.

But taking over as the cricket board’s ombudsman and deciding on conflict of interest issues has been a different experience for the retired judge. These are still early days, but he has been receiving complaints against individuals without the complainants fully understanding the ombudsman’s role.

Of the 15 complaints received so far, no merit was found in at least five cases: Shah

In an interview, Shah said, “A total of 15 complaints have been received so far. No merit was found in at least five of these cases, which have been either dismissed or disposed of. I must also add that many of these complaints, and certain other letters and communications I have received, show that the role of the ombudsman has not been fully appreciated. 

“For example, I received emails asking that certain persons be removed from the Indian cricket team, or that selection processes must change, etc. These are not the issues that an ombudsman is designated to look into.”

Justice Shah said that it is not possible to have a universal definition of conflict of interest. He said, “Generally speaking, conflict of interest is a situation that arises where someone has multiple interests, which could potentially clash with each other, and which could potentially affect how that person functions in a given circumstance. But it is not possible to have a standard definition of conflict of interest that fits all circumstances.”

Justice Shah received a conflict of interest complaint against former Test captain Sourav Ganguly. He is the president of CAB and member of the IPL Governing Council. He is also a co-owner of ISL’s football team Atletico de Kolkata. This came after Atletico co-owner, Sanjiv Goenka, purchased IPL’s Pune franchise.

He said, “When a complaint is received against Mr Ganguly, there is certain due process to be followed. Where the board is concerned, or has the capacity to answer certain aspects of an allegation, responses have been sought from the parties concerned, including Ganguly and the BCCI,”

He received another conflict of interest complaint against Indian cricketer Harbhajan Singh. He has been found guilty of violating the Codes C&D of the guidelines issued by the BCCI President to avoid a conflict of interest.

On his role as the cricket board’s ombudsman, Justice Shah said, “The position of the ombudsman has come about after the BCCI itself acknowledged that it has structural problems. My role is to help them to avoid issues pertaining to conflict of interest in the future. Across-the-board reforms are being introduced. This assignment is an opportunity for me to support the reforms.”

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