Hardik Pandya and KL Rahul appeared on a TV chat show, last Sunday (January 6), and sparked an outrage with their sexist comments about women. The duo enraged social media with their venomous masculinity, unabashed misogyny and lame chauvinism. Hardik Pandya bragged about his “hook-ups” with several women and said he liked to check them out at bars or nightclubs. While Pandya boasted about being open with his parents about the liaisons, Rahul was more reserved with his comments. Nevertheless, the pair were blasted for being “pathetic” and “cringe worthy” by Twitter users in a mass tirade.
Pandya apologises on social media
After the backlash, Hardik Pandya took to social media on Tuesday and apologised for his comments, stating that he “got carried away by the nature of the show”, but meant no disrespect to anyone.
— hardik pandya (@hardikpandya7) January 9, 2019
Meanwhile, KL Rahul did not make any public statement.
BCCI issues show cause notice
On Wednesday, barely hours after Pandya’s apology, the Board of Control for Cricket in India’s (BCCI) Committee of Administrators (CoA) issued a show cause notice to both the cricketers and sought an explanation within 24 hours for their remarks on the TV show.
“We have sent show cause notices to Hardik Pandya and KL Rahul for their comments. They have given 24 hours to give an explanation,” CoA chief Vinod Rai said.
Pandya says “sincerely regretful”
Pandya responded to the BCCI’s show-cause notice by saying that he was “sincerely regretful” for his comments.
“I made an appearance on the chat show where I have made certain statements without realising that these could be disrespectful and offend sensitivities of viewers for which I am sincerely regretful,” stated Pandya’s response.
“I would like to assure you that there was no malice or any sort of ill-intent on my part to offend anyone or portray any section of the society in bad light. I made these statements in the flow of the show and had not comprehended the extent to which my statements would be found offensive,” he added.
Vinod Rai recommends two-match ban for “very crass” comments
Vinod Rai was not convinced with Pandya’s apology and recommended a two-ODI ban for both the players, on Thursday.
“I am not convinced with Hardik’s explanation and I have recommended a two-match ban for both players. However the final decision will be taken once Diana gives her go ahead,” Rai said.
Rai, in an e-mail to BCCI CEO Rahul Johri, labelled the comments by Hardik Pandya and KL Rahul “very crass.”
“I have seen the remarks made by these two players on the show in print today. Very crass. No apology can cover it. I had asked Diana (CoA member Diana Edulji) to suggest penalty because I had not seen the clip. I think we need to give both of them a two-match suspension. If Diana agrees, Rahul please draft an appropriate instruction and issue today as their explanations have come in. Separately, please prepare an advisory to all BCCI contracted players and support staff,” Rai wrote.
Diana Edulji seeks legal opinion
Co-member Diana Edulji, who was seeking a legal opinion on the course of action, promptly replied.
“There is no delay as such. Big steps will be taken through a proper process and protocol as per BCCI’s rules and regulations. This is my response to the story,” Diana Edulji responded.
Later in the day, BCCI treasurer Anirudh Chaudhry called for an inquiry to find out whether or not the two sought permission from the cricket board to appear on the show, and if yes, Chaudhry wanted to know who gave them the permission.
“The provisions of the earlier contracts and the practice in place would have required these contracted players to seek permission to appear on the show. Was such a permission sought? Was such a permission granted? If so, by whom?” Chaudhry asked.
Virat Kohli condemns comments
India skipper Virat Kohli then broke his silence over the matter and said that the team doesn’t align with the views and those were the opinions of the players.
“We as the Indian cricket team and responsible cricketers don’t align with those views, those were individual opinions. We are still waiting for a decision to be made,” Kohli said at the press conference ahead of the first ODI against Australia in Sydney on Friday.
Legal team refuses action
BCCI’s legal team refused to declare Hardik Pandya and KL Rahul’s sexist comments a violation of the code of conduct.
“We feel that present matter doesn’t fall under the ambit of Code of Conduct and procedure of Code of Conduct can’t be invoked in present circumstances,” the copy of the legal opinion stated.
Diana Edulji asks for “suspension till further action”
When the BCCI’s legal firm made it clear that the objectionable comments made by Hardik Pandya do not fall under the Code of Conduct ambit, Diana Edulji recommended “suspension till further action”.
“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,” read Edulji’s response to the legal opinion.
“Based on legal opinion and final procedure is laid down to address this issue, will recommend that a communication is sent to concerned players and team immediately,” Edulji wrote in response to recommendations from the Board’s legal firm Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas.
Hardik Pandya and KL Rahul suspended
Just hours before India’s first ODI against Australia, the BCCI confirmed that Hardik Pandya and KL Rahul were suspended from playing any form of cricket with immediate effect and will return to India from the ongoing tour.
“The CoA in accordance with the BCCI has decided to suspend Hardik Pandya and KL Rahul from playing any form of cricket after their comments on a TV show,” read the BCCI statement.
“The duo will now return to India and an enquiry and proceedings will be made against them for misconduct and indiscipline that have been initiated under Rule 41 of the BCCI Constitution.”
“In terms of Rule 41(6) of the BCCI Constitution, the players are hereby suspended with immediate effect from participating in any manner whatsoever in any match or function or event or activity that is authorized, organized, sanctioned, recognized or supported in any way by the BCCI, the ICC or any State Association, until final adjudication of the matter,” added the release.
Diana Edulji warns Vinod Rai of “cover up”
Following their suspension, Vinod Rai initiated an inquiry over Hardik Pandya and KL Rahul’s misconduct and indiscipline. Diana Edulji, however, warned Rai of any “cover up” in the inquiry.
Moreover, Edulji also objected to Johri’s role in the preliminary inquiry into the matter.
In a response to Rai’s mail, Edulji stated that the CoA might end up getting criticised if Rahul Johri conducts the preliminary inquiry, because he himself has been at the receiving end of “grave sexual allegations.”
BCCI name replacements
The BCCI, on Sunday, called up all-rounder Vijay Shankar and batsman Shubman Gill for India’s Australia and New Zealand tours to replace KL Rahul and Hardik Pandya.
“With KL Rahul and Hardik Pandya set to return from Australia, the All-India Senior Selection Committee has decided to send all-rounder Vijay Shankar & batsman Shubman Gill as replacements,” the BCCI said in a release.
“Vijay Shankar will join the team before the start of the 2nd ODI in Adelaide”.
“He will be a part of the squad for the ODI series in Australia and the tour to New Zealand. Shubman Gill has been picked for the ODI and Twenty20 series in New Zealand”, the BCCI release added.