BCCI treasurer Anirudh Chaudhry has “vehemently” denied he had issued threats to the board’s chief financial officer (CFO) Santosh Rangnekar on three separate occasions. Challenging that claim, Rangnekar suggested he was happy to take a polygraph test if Chaudhry was willing, too.
In an affidavit filed in the Supreme Court, Chaudhry said the allegations were “frivolous” and the only reason he was being “singled out” was because certain individuals did not want to stand scrutiny.
During a hearing on November 30 last year, the court was told that Chaudhry had issued threats to Rangnekar in person on three different occasions in the last 12 months – first on January 23 in the BCCI office in Mumbai and then twice in a hotel in Delhi during the board’s finance committee meeting on October 6.
Asked to respond to the allegations within two weeks, Chaudhry filed the affidavit on December 13. “The Deponent (Chaudhry) at the outset vehemently & unequivocally denies each and every allegation as made by the CFO being unfounded, frivolous and to say the least, malicious,” the affidavit read. “These allegations are absolutely false and imputations are being cast on the deponent in order to malign his image.” Chaudhry told the court that he denied that he had “threatened or used unparliamentary language” against Rangnekar.
On October 11, Rangnekar recorded all the three alleged threats in an email to the committee of administrators (CoA). Chaudhry said what troubled him was the fact that it had taken Rangnekar nine months since the first incident to bring the alleged threats into public domain. “This makes it amply clear that the complaint is vexatious, purely a figment of imagination, aimed to impede the endeavour of prudent financial check and balances, which the Deponent was trying to pursue.”
Chaudhry is likely to face some tough questioning from the court when it reconvenes on February 23 after the COA said that based on his “seriously objectionable conduct” it had reason to believe the charges pressed by Rangnekar. The COA noted that in its latest status report submitted in court last week. Rahul Johri, the BCCI chief executive officer, also filed an affidavit challenging the interference of Chaudhry in the daily functioning of the BCCI.
Chaudhry pointed out that he was being singled out only because “any debatable act” on the part of the CFO, the CEO or any other BCCI official that is “contrary” to the board’s constitution, was being highlighted by him.
According to Rangnekar, the issues became evident to him as soon as he joined the BCCI in 2016. Incidentally, Chaudhry was on the interview panel that recruited Rangnekar. He was told that with the BCCI moving towards adopting a professional structure, the daily financial management duties would be taken care of by the CFO.
However, Rangnekar said he faced difficulties in performing his duties. “Accordingly, his [Chaudhry] single point agenda at that time was to make my functioning so humiliating, embarrassing, and difficult that I would resign of my own accord and the earlier situation of the Treasurer handling the day to day functioning of the BCCI Treasury would be restored,” Rangnekar said in an affidavit filed in the court on January 25.
Rangnekar noted that on January 23 last year, Chaudhry visited the BCCI office for the first time after the court restored him along with two other office bearers – Amitabh Choudhury (acting secretary) and CK Khanna (acting president) – having disqualified them on January 2 for failure to implement the Lodha Committee reforms. Chaudhry, Rangnekar said, “shouted” at all the officials that worked in the treasury department saying he was “still the boss” and they should follow his “directions and instructions.”
Chaudhry then asked the rest of the staff, apart from Rangnekar, to leave the conference room. That is when Chaudhry issued his first threat to Rangnekar saying he was going to file an FIR (First Information Report) against the CFO and Johri because the pair had “misappropriated” the board’s funds. Rangnekar said he was “shocked” by Chaudhry’s “aggressive” behaviour.
When Chaudhury once again confronted him twice in a day on October 6 in Delhi, Rangnekar said he was shaken. The first instance, according to Rangnekar, was at the hotel cafe where the board’s finance committee meeting had taken place, and the second in the hotel lobby.
Chaudhry argued that the cafe and the lobby were public spaces where “any threatening behaviour would not go unnoticed or unreported.” Rangnekar noted in his affidavit that on both occasions on October 6, Chaudhry threatened him “with a smile and without any overtly aggressive gesture precisely because any such gesture would be noticed by others.”
Rangnekar narrated the sequence of events of January 23 and then October 6 to Johri on the same day the alleged threats were issued. In an affidavit filed in the court on January 25, Johri confirmed Rangnekar had told him about Chaudhry’s alleged threats. Johri also noted that Rangnekar looked “agitated” both times.
Rangnekar challenged Chaudhry and his executive assistant Gaurav Virmani to take a polygraph test about the incidents. Virmani, Rangnekar said, was present when Chaudhry issued the alleged threats.
Rangnekar said that court delaysl and the BCCI failing to adopt the Lodha Committee reforms had “emboldened” the likes of Chaudhry. “The Treasurer has claimed on more than one occasion that the reforms mandated by this Hon’ble Court will never be implemented because persons like him with political connections are doing everything in their power to ensure that it does not happen.
With every passing day, the Treasurer is getting further emboldened and becoming more aggressive and those of us who are assisting the CoA in the discharge of its function are likely to continue facing the brunt of the same.”
Nagraj Gollapudi is a senior assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo
ESPN Sports Media Ltd.