A member of the Madhya Pradesh Cricket Association, Sanjeev Gupta, has written to the BCCI’s Ethics Officer DK Jain with a complaint against Virat Kohli and the alleged conflict of interest he finds himself in by holding the position of the captain of the Indian cricket team and also as a Director of Virat Kohli Sports LLP and Cornerstone Venture Partners LLP.
What is the case against Virat and what does the BCCI’s Constitution say? The Quint explains.
What is the Complaint Against Virat Kohli?
Virat’s position in two business ventures has been questioned by Sanjeev Gupta with a ‘conflict of interest’ complaint filed against him.
Virat is the Director at Virat Kohli Sports (LLP) and Cornerstone Venture Partners (LLP) and his Co-Directors at the firms also hold a similar position at a third company - Cornerstone Sport and Entertainment Private Limited - which is a talent management agency that currently works with many Indian cricketers including KL Rahul, Umesh Yadav, Kuldeep Yadav and Ravindra Jadeja, and handles their branding and commercial interests.
The company also manages Virat Kohli himself.
In an email to the BCCI ethics officer, the complainant Sanjeev Gupta has asked the board to step in and urge the skipper to step down from his posts.
"I humbly solicit Learned Ethics Officer to forthwith pass the order directing Virat Kohli to give away one of his posts, at once, in compliance to BCCI Constitution dated 21.08.18 Rule Number 38(4) (Approved by Apex Court )," Gupta has written in the mail that has been accessed by The Quint.
What is 'Conflict of Interest'?
The ‘Conflict of Interest’ clause was added the to BCCI Constitution following the recommendations made by the Lodha Committee. The new Constitution that came into affect on 9 August 2018 states that conflict can be found to be in any of these 5 different forms:
1. Direct or Indirect Interest: When the BCCI, a Member, the IPL or a Franchisee enter into contractual arrangements with entities in which the individual concerned or his/per relative, partner or close associate has an interest. This is to include cases where family members, partners or close associates are in positions that may, or may be seen to compromise an individual's participation, performance and discharge of roles.
2. Roles compromised: When the individual holds two separate or distinct posts or positions under the BCCI, a Member, the IPL or the Franchisee, the functions of which would require the one to be beholden to the other, or in opposition thereof.
3. Commercial conflicts: When the individual enters into endorsement contracts or other professional engagements with third parties, the discharge of which would compromise the individual's primary obligation to the game or allow for a perception that the purity of the game stands compromised.
4. Prior relationship: When the individual has a direct or indirect independent commercial engagement with a vendor or service provider in the past, which is now to be engaged by or on behalf of the BCCI, its Member, the IPL or the Franchisee.
5. Position of influence: When the individual occupies a post that calls for decisions of governance, management or selection to be made, and where a friend, relative or close affiliate is in the zone of consideration or subject to such decision-making, control or management. Also, when the individual holds any stake, voting rights or power to influence the decisions of a franchisee / club / team that participates in the commercial league( s) under BCCI.
Where Does Virat Stand?
Conflicts of interest are essentially situations where a person's ability to carry out their official responsibilities can be affected by their private interests. The danger, in such situations, is that a person can exploit their official position in some way for their personal benefit.
According to the complainant, Virat’s position as India captain and also as a Co-Director of 2 companies with his manager Buntry Sajdeh and Binoy Khimji puts him in danger of violating the ‘Commercial Conflicts’ sub-clause which states: “When the individual enters into endorsement contracts or other professional engagements with third parties, the discharge of which would compromise the individual's primary obligation to the game or allow for a perception that the purity of the game stands compromised.”
While it isn’t always necessary that a person has already exploited their official position, the perception that this is possible is in itself a problem since we are talking about positions of trust. A position like Virat’s, as the captain of the Indian team, and also as a man who is invested in the commercial revenues of his manager whose company also manages some of the biggest names and some of the most promising next-gen cricketers in Indian cricket, raises questions of propriety.
What Does Virat Have to Say?
While the complaint was sent to the BCCI’s Ethics Officer and other board officials on 4 July, the Indian captain is yet to speak out and clarify his stance.
His manager, Bunty Sajdeh, the CEO of Cornerstone Sport And Entertainment Private Limited, has denied any possibility of conflict of interest.
In an official media release, he has said, “Virat is a contracted, exclusive client of Cornerstone exactly like the rest of our esteemed talent roster. And as a responsible agency, we once again reiterate that there is no question of any conflict of interest with Virat or any other of our talent for that matter.
“Third parties with whatever vested interests prefer to think otherwise. I request them to simply check all facts before jumping to their own conclusions. We carry out our business in a very professional and transparent manner which can be easily verified from the documents filed with public authorities from time to time. This is all we have to say on this matter once and for all.”
What's The Next Move?
BCCI ethics’s officer DK Jain has confirmed that he will be examining the conflict of interest allegations against the Indian captain.
“I have received a complaint. I will examine it and then see if the case is made out or not. If yes, then I have to afford an opportunity to him (Kohli) to respond,” Jain told PTI.
Since being appointed the Ethics Officer of the BCCI, Jain, a Supreme Court judge from 2006 to 2013, has already handled a handful of conflict of interest complaints including those against Rahul Dravid, Sourav Ganguly, VVS Laxman and Kapil Dev. All the complaints were incidentally made by Sanjeev Gupta.
(With inputs from Vakasha Sachdev)
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