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Harbhajan seeks legal opinion regarding Ombudsman observation

Thursday, Feb 18, 2016,16:21 IST By Metrovaartha A A A

New Delhi | Senior India off-spinner Harbhajan Singh today said he is seeking legal advise on the way ahead after BCCI Ombudsman Justice (Retd) AP Shah observed that the bowler should dissociate himself from sports apparel company ‘Bhajji Sports’, which supplies kits to domestic teams.

Shah had investigated the ‘Conflict of Interest’ issues raised by activist Neeraj Gundey, who had filed a number of such complaints with the ‘Office of Ombudsman’.

I have received an e-mail communication from the Board. All I can say at this moment is that I am discussing the issue with my legal advisor. I will act according to his advice, Harbhajan told PTI today.

The company ‘Bhajji Sports’ is owned by Mrs Avtar Kaur, who is the cricketer’s mother.

When a senior BCCI official was asked, he said that if Harbhajan is not the owner, anyone else can run the company, he said: As long as Harbhajan’s name does not feature among the owners of the company in any of the deeds, he will not be under the Conflict of Interest purview.

According to Justice (Retd) Shah’s observation: The Ombudsman recommends that all concerned individuals (cricketers, selectors, coaches, and administrators) should be required to make standard disclosures about their affiliations in the context of the conflict of interest rules (which may pertain, for example, to cricket coaching/training academies, sports management companies, sports apparel manufacturers, etc).

If the disclosures reveal that an individual does have such an association, they may be asked to either terminate their association with such companies/academies, or asked to resign from their position as cricketer/selector/coach/administrator, as covered by the conflict of interest rules.

However, there was a big sigh of relief for former India captain Sourav Ganguly after Shah declared that the former batsman’s association as part-owner of Atletico de Kolkata doesn’t fall into Conflict of interest purview after the owners bought the Pune IPL team.

The Ombudsman is of the view that no case of conflict of interest has been established or made out against Mr Ganguly, and therefore, the matter is accordingly disposed of, Justice Shah says in his order yesterday.

Ganguly, in his reply, had made it clear that he had no commercial links with the new IPL franchise Rising Pune Supergiants even though he had a negligible share in Atletico de Kolkata.

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