The All India Chess Federation (AICF) has removed the restrictive undertaking that players had to give while registering themselves with the body, which sought to comply with the Competition Commission of India’s order. However, Karun Duggal and Gurpreet Pal Singh, who were banned and stripped of their FIDE rating for allegedly participating in unauthorised tournaments, called it an “eyewash”.
They said the AICF has removed the undertaking from the registration form but state associations had not removed the condition, adding that it remains in brochures for upcoming tournaments. “It is an eyewash. State associations affiliated to AICF have not removed the condition. Moreover, the condition exists in the brochures for upcoming tournaments,” Delhi-based Duggal said.
He also said his FIDE Elo rating has not been restored yet and feared that the AICF may bring in additional clauses which would prevent players from taking part in other tournaments. He said the chess federation had filed a compliance report with the CCI on February 8 after it had been told to do so on January 7.
Gurpreet Pal Singh, a former national junior champion, also concurred with Duggal’s views. “Basically the AICF has removed the undertaking from the registration form but it is implementing it through state associations. What is the point of this exercise,” Gurpreet said.
“I don’t think AICF has implemented it fully. I will be filing a reply before the CCI,” he said. He said the CCI should take note of this.
“The Honourable Commission knows it better… It has to decide,” he added. The AICF’s decision to remove the undertaking was revealed when a Delhi-based player tried to re-register after being banned by the chess body in 2010 for taking part in a tournament not authorised by it.
On July 12, 2018, the CCI had held that the undertaking prescribed by the AICF for players regarding non-participation in events not authorised by it amounts to restraints that are in the nature of exclusive distribution and refusal to deal as defined in Section 3(f) and 3(4)(d) of the Competition Act 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 chess players. The CCI also imposed a penalty of Rs 692350 on the AICF for infringing on the provisions of Section 4 of the Act and directed the chess body to deposit the penalty within 60 days and file a compliance report.
The AICF has filed an appeal against the CCI order in the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT). The complaint against the AICF was filed by four chess players — Duggal, Gurpreet Singh, Devendra Bajpai and Hemant Sharma — alleging contravention of the provisions of Sections 3 and 4 of the Act.
The players had complained to the CCI that their Elo rating points were removed by the AICF without giving any prior notice due to their participation in the chess tournament sponsored by the Chess Association of India (CAI) in 2010, which was not authorised by the AICF.
According to the CCI order, the complainants alleged that the AICF also removed the ratings of 151 chess players on that ground. The CCI order had asked the AICF to review the disciplinary action taken against the four players who had lodged complaints. AICF officials could not be reached for comment on the issue.