By Venkatachari Jagannathan
Chennai, Aug 24 (IANS) Peace brings prosperity, while litigation results in cash and energy outgo. The officials of the All India Chess Federation (AICF) and Chess Association of India (CAI) will vouch for that now.
The AICF is expected to be richer by about Rs.1.30 crore after signing peace treaties with its rivals — CAI and the Calicut registered AICF (AICF-Calicut).
A couple of days back, AICF and CAI announced that the latter will merge with the former so that the sport can progress with a lower number of court cases.
“We had approached the new management of AICF –Sanjay Kapoor, President, and Bharat Singh Chauhan, Secretary — with the merger proposal and ending litigation. They agreed to the idea. With this move, the years of litigation will come to an end and people can focus on the game,” S.L.Harsh, Senior Vice President, CAI told IANS.
“It is to reduce court cases and create a good atmosphere for chess in the country,” Chauhan told IANS.
The CAI was a rival organisation to AICF formed several years back and conducted tournaments.
On its part, the AICF not only filed a case against CAI but also, banned the players who had participated in the tournaments organised by its rival.
In order to re-admit the banned chess players into its fold, AICF demanded the full prize money and later some portion of that from the players who had won the CAI organised tournaments.
The AICF also sought an apology letter from the players for readmission.
“We had to travel a long distance to attend to the case that was filed in the Madras High Court,” Harsh a former player and an advocate practicing tax laws hailing from Rajasthan said.
As to the legal formalities of the merger, Harsh said AICF and CAI are registered societies. Under the Societies Act, one organisation can go for dissolution and transfer the assets and liabilities to another.
“While there are no liabilities for CAI, there will be some cash balance and some chess boards and clocks. These will now go to AICF,” Harsh said.
According to him, the state units affiliated with CAI may also get merged with the state units of AICF over a period of time.
Both Chauhan and Harsh said there was no agreement on offering positions in AICF to the office bearers of CAI.
“The AICF elections got over and no post can be offered to anyone,” Chauhan said.
While the CAI treaty will bring in little money to AICF’s coffers, it is the peace deal with AICF-Calicut that is expected to boost its cash balance.
It was late P.T.Ummer Koya, a former FIDE Vice President and AICF Secretary who had registered AICF in Calicut in 1991.
Opposing this, chess officials in Tamil Nadu filed a case saying that the AICF registered in Chennai is the real chess body registered in long back and got a favourable verdict.
There is also a case pending between AICF and AICF-Calicut.
As per the current scheme of things, the AICF will withdraw the pending case against AICF-Calicut and get its cash balance.
“Calicut AICF funds will be transferred to AICF soon. It is around Rs.1.30 crore,” Chauhan said.
Be that as it may, the merger of CAI with AICF as things stand now is not going to benefit the players who were banned or who were penalised their prize monies by the latter.
“I welcome AICF President Kapoor’s decision to agree to merge CAI with AICF. But there are some issues,” said Gurpreet Pal Singh a chess player and who was banned by AICF.
“Over 100 chess players had suffered as AICF had banned them for playing in CAI conducted tournaments. In order to readmit them to its fold, the AICF had asked the players to pay it the prize monies won in the CAI tournaments,” Singh said.
“With the merger of CAI with AICF, the next logical step for AICF is to pay back the prize monies collected from the players as a penalty. This will generate goodwill for AICF,” Singh said.
He also said the AICF should also withdraw its appeal filed with the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) against the Competition Commission of India’s (CCI) order.
“The case has nothing to do with CAI. We are trying to reduce litigation as far as possible,” Chauhan said.
Harsh said it is for the Chess Players Forum (CPF) to take up the refund of the prize money issue with AICF.
Responding to that, International Master V.Saravanan, Joint Secretary CPF told IANS: “If the AICF had collected the prize money from the players for re-admission, then it has to be paid back with interest to them.”
“If AICF wants to be a player-friendly organisation, then it has to withdraw its case with NCLAT and others,” Saravanan added.
It was Singh and Karun Duggal who had filed a case against AICF with the Competition Commission of India (CCI) and got a favourable order.
On July 12, 2018, the CCI had ruled that the undertaking prescribed for players regarding non-participation in events not authorised by it amounted to “restraints” and was violative of the Competition Act of 2002.
The CCI said the non-compliance of such undertaking will result in banning of players and removal of their Elo rating, create entry barriers, foreclose competition and restrict opportunities available to players.
The CCI also imposed a penalty of Rs.692,350 on AICF for infringing the provisions of Section 4 of the Act.
The AICF though has changed its rules in line with CCI order, it has gone on appeal against the order at NCLAT.
(Venkatachari Jagannathan can be contacted at email@example.com)