The BCCI has recently declared the Indian cricket squad for the World T20. Along with the team declaration, also came the announcement of the appointment of M.S.Dhoni, as the “Mentor” of the team. There cannot be a better person than him when it comes to winning the world cup cricket, and as such there won’t be any reservations about this decision purely on cricketing merits.
But, the appointment of a mentor has also invited some debate as to whether this will amount to “conflict of interest” as stipulated under the court-approved new constitution as he is also the current captain of an IPL team. An application has been filed with the Ethics officer of the BCCI and it will get decided on merits after the due process. As such, it will not be appropriate to comment upon the pending Application. . But it will be worth, looking at some aspects of the issue, in question simply out of academic interest.
At the outset, I strongly believe that” conflict of interest “ cannot be captured by making elaborate rules. The conflict of interest needs to be seen, in each and every case, looking at the facts and possibilities. It must be remembered that the conflict can remain outside the rules also, and so merely testing it on some rules is not adequate. The policy should be to protect both, the organisation as well as the individual and also to see how the organization will be benefited.
The challenge to this appointment as seen from the media reports is referring to the provisions of clause 38 (4) of the rules dealing with the conflict of interest. For ready reference, clause 38 (4) of the BCCI rules states as under –
“4) It is clarified that no individuals may occupy more than one of the following posts at a single point of time except where prescribed under the rules.”
Out of all such positions, the important positions for the present discussion are, a) player (current ) b) selector c) team officials.
At the same time, rule 38 (4) can not be read in isolation and rules must be considered in totality. So whether a person is in the “ position of influence” is also to be seen.
The interpretation of the word “ player (current)” becomes very vital. As the record shows, the player in question has retired from international cricket but will be a part of domestic cricket. IPL is India’s domestic tournament, even as per the ICC records. Thus, if we consider this aspect he may be classified as a current player.
Another important point to ponder will be the exact role, that, the Mentor has been assigned. This is for the first time that a “mentor “ has been appointed for a senior Indian cricket team. But the exact role of mentor has not been yet declared by the BCCI to our knowledge. Much depends upon that and rules 38(4) will be attracted if he is doing one of the listed jobs in the rule. The IPL teams have been appointing Mentors and it has raised some questions of dual roles. The ethics officer has decided some complaints in cases of some senior players who were working as mentors for IPL teams.
The dictionary meaning of the word “mentor “ is an experienced person who trains or advises. So defining his exact role, with scope and limitations, compensation if any will be very important for deciding the conflict or otherwise. we will have to wait and see how it develops.
To my mind, a simple answer in all such cases is to see, whether it is possible for a person to derive any personal benefit ( or for the organization that he represents ) from his authority or action, and whether he will be in a position to influence a decision towards that. Of course, as of today, we will have to go by the existing rules of the BCCI.
But keeping all such controversies aside, We hope and pray on this auspicious “Ganesh Chaturthi” day, that the men in blue will lift the world cup once again !!
(The writer is a former member of BCCI legal committee & former president of Maharashtra Cricket Association. The views expressed are that of his own.)