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Court refuses to stay probe against chess federation

The Delhi High Court Tuesday refused to impose a stay on its earlier order asking the Competition Commission of India (CCI) to probe allegations that the All India Chess Federation (AICF) was abusing its dominant position by banning players who took part in tournaments organised by other sports associations.

Disposing off the plea of AICF that the operation of an order delivered against it by the court’s single judge bench be stayed, a division bench of Acting Chief Justice A.K. Sikri and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw said: “The single judge has only taken a prima facie view and the appellant (AICF) may approach the Competition Commisison.”

The order was issued over the petition of Hemant Sharma and other chess players.

AICF’s counsel Arvind Nigam said that the court was not a “statutory body” under law, and could not direct the panel to probe the allegations against the apex body of chess.

He said that under the government guidelines, there could be only one sports federation for a game and the AICF was the only one federation for chess.

“The order for probe against the AICF was untenable,” said Nigam.

Justice Vipin Sanghi earlier asked the CCI to probe whether the AICF was abusing its dominant position.

He gave the order while taking note of the plea filed by a player alleging that the AICF, recognised by the sports ministry, was prohibiting players registered with it from participating in tournaments organised by other chess federations.

It was also alleged that July 11, the AICF had written a letter to Railways Sports Promotion Board that players, who participated and won in tournaments organised by other sports associations, would have to tender an apology and give the prize money to the AICF.

Justice Sanghi took serious note of the allegation while asking the CCI to look into them.

“Since in the present case, the petitioner has brought to this court’s notice the aforesaid state of affairs in relation to yht AICF, this court is of the opinion that the said aspects need a thorough investigation under provisions of the Competition Act by the Competition Commission,” Justice Sanghi said.

The court asked Sharma and other chess players, claiming to be registered with AICF, the to appear before the CCI Nov 28 to present a memorandum containing their grievances.

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