MI owner asked to respond to ‘conflict of interest’ allegation

The Board of Control for Cricket in India’s (BCCI) new Ethics Officer, retired Supreme Court judge Justice Vineet Saran, has asked for a written response from Mumbai Indians owner and Reliance Industries Limited director Nita Ambani over an alleged ‘conflict of interest’ complaint against her. Justice Saran, in the communication assessed by The Indian Express, has set September 2 as the deadline for the response that “should be supported by a duly executed affidavit”.

The complainant, former Madhya Pradesh Cricket Association member Sanjeev Gupta, in his communication to Justice Saran last month, wrote that Ambani is “hit by an instance of Conflict of Interest”, according to BCCI rules, since “she is owner of BCCI IPL Franchisee of Mumbai Indians Team & also RIL-Owned / Subsidiary Viacom 18 won the IPL Media rights thus Viacom 18 entered into contractual arrangement with BCCI for IPL media rights”.

Reacting to the complaint, Saran wrote to Ambani: “You are hereby informed that a complaint has been received by the Ethics Officer of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (for short ‘BCCI’) under Rule 39(2) (b) of the Rules and Regulations of BCCI, regarding certain acts, allegedly constituting ‘conflict of interest’ on your part.”

The notice further reads, “You are directed to file your written response to the accompanying complaint on or before 02/09/2022. The said response should be supported by a duly executed affidavit.”

Quoting an RIL statement and BCCI website, Gupta, in his complaint, mentions two points that connect RIL-Mumbai Indians-Viacom dots.

* “It is submitted that Reliance Industries Limited (RIL), through its subsidiary India Win Sports, owns BCCI IPL Franchise Mumbai Indians, thus RIL through its subsidiary India Win Sports is in franchisee contractual agreement with BCCI.”

* “It is submitted that BCCI website dated 15 June 2022 & BCCI Secretary Shri Jay Shah Twitter account dated 14 June 2022 displaying that Viacom 18, subsidiary of RIL, won BCCI IPL Media rights.”

RIL’s shareholding in IndiaWin is 99.99 per cent.

Gupta also mentions the relevant clause that he alleges has been violated.

“When the BCCI, a Member, the IPL or a Franchisee enter into contractual arrangements with entities in which the individual concerned or his/her relative, partner or close associate has an interest. This is to include cases where family members, partners or close associates are in position that may, or may be seen to, compromise as individual’s participation, performance and discharge of roles.”

Calls and text messages to Mumbai Indians representative and Justice Saran went unanswered.

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