Case No. 61/2010. Case: Sh. Surinder Singh Barmi Vs Board for Control of Cricket in India (BCCI). Competition Commision of India

Case NumberCase No. 61/2010
JudgesAshok Chawla (Chairman), H.C. Gupta, Member (G), Dr. Geeta Gouri, Member (GG), Anurag Goel, Member (AG), M.L. Tayal, Member (T), Shiv Narayan Dhingra, Member (D)
IssueCompetition Act, 2002 - Sections 19(1)(a), 2(h), 26(1), 27, 27(b), 3, 4, 4(2)(a), 4(2)(a)(i), 4(2)(b), 4(2)(b)(i), 4(2)(c); Income Tax Act, 1961 - Sections 12A, 143(3)
Citation2013 CompLR 297 (CCI), 2013 (118) SCL 226
Judgement DateFebruary 08, 2013
CourtCompetition Commision of India


  1. This case was initiated on the basis of information filed by Sh. Surinder Singh Barmi, a cricket fan from New Delhi against Board for Control of Cricket in India (hereinafter "BCCI") to the Competition Commission of India (hereinafter "Commission") under Section 19(1)(a) of The Competition Act, 2002 (hereinafter "Act") on November 02, 2010. The Commission, upon examination of the facts of the information, passed an order under Section 26(1), on December 09, 2010 recording its opinion that there exists a prima facie case, and directed the Director General (hereinafter "DG") to investigate into the matter.

    1.1 The DG submitted the investigation report on February 21, 2012. The investigation report was sent to the parties seeking their response on the same and further process of inquiry was undertaken in accordance with the provisions of the Act and relevant regulations thereunder. Full opportunity was given to both BCCI and the informant for perusal of all relevant records and making their submissions, both in writing and orally before the Commission.

    Factual Background

    1.2 The Opposite Party(OP), BCCI, is a society registered under Tamil Nadu Societies Registration Act, 1975 with the primary objectives as stated in the Memorandum of Association (MoA) of controlling the game of cricket in India, promoting the game in India, framing the laws of cricket in India, selecting teams to represent India in Test Matches, ODIs and Twenty 20 matches played in India or abroad. It is a 'full member' of International Cricket Council ("ICC")

    1.3 A party related to the OP is ICC. ICC is the global governing body for international cricket. It is responsible for administration of men's and women's cricket including the management of playing conditions and officials for Test Match and One Day International (ODI) Cricket and the staging of international cricket events for men, women and juniors. It has three categories of Members viz. Full Members, Associate Members and Affiliate Members.

    1.4 Full Members are the governing bodies for cricket of a country recognised by the ICC, or nations associated for cricket purposes, or a geographical area, from which representative teams are qualified to play official Test matches (10 Members).

    1.5 Associate Members are the governing bodies for cricket of a country recognised by the ICC, or countries associated for cricket purposes, or a geographical area, which does not qualify as a Full Member, but where cricket is firmly established and organised (36 Members).

    1.6 Affiliate Members are the governing bodies for cricket of a country recognised by ICC, or countries associated for cricket purposes, or a geographical area (which is not part of one of those already constituted as a Full Member or Associate Member) where the ICC recognises that cricket is played in accordance with the Laws of Cricket (60 Members).


    1.7 The allegations levelled by the informant centre on the following three dimensions of organization of Indian Premier League (IPL), a Twenty 20, professional cricket league tournament conducted by BCCI:

    a. Irregularities in the grant of franchise rights for team ownership.

    b. Irregularities in the grant of media rights for coverage of the league.

    c. Irregularities in the award of sponsorship rights and other local contracts related to organization of IPL.

  2. Summary of DG's findings and submissions of the OP

    2.1 The DG investigated the matter with respect to the following issues:

    i. Whether the Act is applicable to BCCI or not? and whether BCCI is an 'enterprise' as defined u/s. 2(h) of the Act.

    ii. What would be the relevant market in the said case?

    iii. Whether BCCI has a dominant position in the relevant market as determined?

    iv. If so, whether BCCI has abused its dominant position in the relevant market in contravention of the provisions of Section 4 of the Act?

    2.2 In order to examine the issues framed above, questionnaires were sent by DG to the various parties to the case viz. all the successful and unsuccessful bidders for franchise rights of IPL Teams, Essel Sports Private Ltd. (the promoters of Indian Cricket League), media companies involved in bidding for media rights and other parties related to the case. DG also examined the concerned representatives of parties on oath and obtained their statements and perused all the documents related to bidding for franchise or media rights for IPL.

    2.3 After examination of the replies/documents etc. received from the parties, the submissions of the Informant, DG analysed the various issues.

    Applicability of Competition Act on BCCI

    BCCI's submissions

    2.4 During the course of investigation, BCCI contended that it is a 'not-for-profit' society for the promotion of sport of cricket and its activities is outside the purview of the Act, especially Section 3 and 4. It also submitted that its commitments are neither driven by nor conditional upon commercial considerations. The revenue obtained by BCCI is ploughed back into the game of cricket.

    2.5 BCCI also cited a decision by Hon'ble Supreme Court of India in Secretary, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting(MoI&B), Govt. of India(GoI) and Others Vs. Cricket Association of Bengal and Others reported as (1995 2 SCC 161). The SC in that case held,

    ...It must further be remembered that sporting organizations such as BCCI/CAB in the present case, have not been established only to organize the sports events or to broadcast or telecast them. The organization of sports events is only a part of their various objects, as pointed out earlier and even when they organize the events, they are primarily to educate the sportsmen, to promote and popularize the sports and also to inform and entertain the viewers. The organization of such events involves huge costs. Whatever surplus is left after defraying all the expenses is ploughed back by them in the organization itself. It will be taking a deliberately distorted view of the right claimed by such organizations to telecast the sporting event to call it an assertion of a commercial right. Yet the MIB has chosen to advance such contention which can only be described as most unfortunate. It is needless to say that we are, in the circumstances, unable to accept the argument. The Ministry or the Government as a whole should not denigrate the sporting organizations such as BCCI/CAB by placing them at par with business organizations sponsoring sporting events for profit and the access claimed by them to telecasting as an assertion of commercial interest.

    2.6 On the basis of aforesaid arguments and owing to the nature of its activities, BCCI contended that it cannot be compared to a commercial organization and it does not qualify to be an enterprise within the meaning of Section 2(h) of the Act.

    DG's Findings

    2.7 The DG concluded that though BCCI is a society and supposed to be a non-profit organization, its activities related to IPL such as grant of franchise rights, media rights and other sponsorship rights, where huge revenue is involved, are different from so called non-profit activities. These activities fall in the commercial sphere and the whole tendering process for such rights is motivated by profits.

    2.8 The DG also relied on findings of Income Tax Department as revealed in the Income Tax Assessment Order u/s. 143(3) of the Income Tax Act for Assessment Year 2008-09. Registration of BCCI granted u/s. 12A of the Income Tax Act was withdrawn by IT Authority (Director of Income Tax - Exemptions) vide order dated 28.12.2009, considering the changes in the status and memorandum of BCCI.

    2.9 The DG also placed reliance over the EC decision in case of Abuse of Dominance by FIFA (International Federation of Association Football). EC in their decision, held that World Cup comprises of various activities of economic nature like sale of entrance tickets, commercial exploitation of FIFA emblems, conclusion of contracts for advertising on panels within the grounds, conclusion of contracts related to television broadcasting rights etc. and for all such purpose, FIFA is an 'undertaking'.

    2.10 The DG also drew support from the decision of Hon'ble High Court in WP(C) 5770/2011 in the case of Hemant Sharma and Others Vs. Union of India and Others, where while disposing the writ petition, Hon'ble High Court considered Chess Federation as an enterprise within the meaning of provisions of Section 2(h) of the Act. DG considered similarity in roles of BCCI and Chess Federation as National Associations for sport of Cricket and Chess respectively and accordingly based his findings.

    2.11 In view of the activities of BCCI being in commercial sphere and legal principles as laid down in the above decisions, DG concluded that BCCI is an enterprise for the purpose of Section 2(h) of the Act.

    Relevant Market

    BCCI's submissions

    2.12 BCCI submitted that the market for various rights related to IPL such as franchise rights, media rights etc. are separate markets as these rights are not interchangeable..

    2.13 BCCI also stated that each of the rights in relation to IPL is intrinsically different, with different price, demand function and end users and therefore cannot be considered as substitutable to each other.

    DG's Findings

    2.14 The DG focussed on the fact that rights related to economic activities in connection to IPL are exclusive in nature and cannot be awarded by any other agency except BCCI as BCCI is the only agency approved by ICC to organize Twenty 20 cricket in India.

    2.15 The DG concluded the relevant market as the "underlying economic activities which are ancillary for organizing the IPL Twenty 20 cricket tournament being carried out under the aegis of BCCI".

    Assessment of Dominance

    BCCI's submissions

    2.16 BCCI admitted that it holds a monopoly, but it should be treated on a different footing owing to the unique nature of the market for professional sports league and the pro-competitive effects of the existence of single professional...

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