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Hardik Pandya-KL Rahul saga: The fight goes on

The divide between the two-member Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA) is as wide as the North and South poles. That CoA chief Vinod Rai and member Diana Edulji once again differed as Hardik Pandya and KL Rahul were suspended with immediate effect on Friday pending inquiry. This time, the difference of opinion was on BCCI CEO Rahul Johri and completing the enquiry by the second ODI v Australia of the ongoing series.

In a fresh round of emails exchanged between them on Saturday morning, which is accessed by mid-day, Rai wrote, "CEO to commence the enquiry as advised by legal (cell). Since the team is abroad with a squad of 13 now, we will have to complete the enquiry quickly. The players must give their explanation quickly. We must take a view by the time the second ODI is over as we cannot afford to debilitate team strength due to delinquent behaviour in part of some players."

Edulji's objectionsEdulji objected with what Rai said. As far as weakening the team's strength is concerned, she shot back: "With the two players coming back, the selectors are in the process or sending the replacements immediately and as such the team will be full strength." The Indian team in Australia are already a 14-member squad sans Pandya and Rahul. The duo were in the team hotel as India played their opening game on Saturday in Sydney.

BCCI officials are bemused with Rai's statements though. "Team India boasts its strong bench strength. What is the need to hurry up with the investigation process? Is there any pressure on Rai? Anyway, a seven-day notice has been issued to both players to explain why the BCCI should not take action against them. We want a thorough and fair investigation this time," a BCCI official told mid-day.

Edulji opposed Johri's involvement in the commencing of the inquiry. "In view of the grave sexual allegations levied on the CEO, it wouldn't be justified if he conducts the enquiry. It's bad optics and the CoA will be criticised for it," she wrote.

Ad-hoc Ombudsman?Based on the legal team's advice to appoint an ad-hoc Ombudsman, Rai said: "The most expedient way is to seek the guidance of the Amicus to approach the appropriate person for the specific assignment." Edulji, in her reply, said: "The constitution does not provide for appointment of an ad hoc Ombudsman as such it won't be prudent to go down that lane. The enquiry should be done by the CoA along with the three office bearers or the CoA along with the secretary. Let us not rush into making wrong decisions."

The BCCI officials are, however, curious over Rai wanting to consult the amicus curiae [an impartial adviser to a court of law]. "In Johri's case, he conveniently ignored this suggestion from Diana and went ahead to form an inquiry panel hand-picked by him. Why was the same process not followed in that case," an official asked.

Also Read: Shubman Gill, Vijay Shankar set to replace Hardik Pandya and KL Rahul

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