New Delhi: Fair trade regulator Competition Commission on Friday held that the Indian cricket board indulged in anti-competitive practices and slapped a penalty of Rs 52.24 crore on it.
Observing that Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) abused its dominant position, the Competition Commission of India directed it to "cease and desist" from any practice in future denying market access to potential competitors, including inclusion of similar clauses in any future agreement.
"...the abuse by BCCI was of a grave nature and the quantum of penalty that needs to be levied should be commensurate with the gravity of the violation," CCI said in an order on Friday.
The complaint was filed by a city-based individual, Surinder Singh Barmi, against BCCI in November 2010. His allegations were based on issues related to Indian Premier League (IPL) and a professional cricket league tournament conducted by BCCI.
Among others, the complainant had alleged irregularities in the grant of franchise rights for team ownership, media rights for coverage of the league and award of sponsorship rights.
Noting that BCCI's economic power is enormous "as a regulator that enables it to pick winners", the regulator said the cricket board has gained tremendously in financial terms from the IPL cricket format.
"Virtually, there is no other competitor in the market nor was anyone allowed to emerge due to BCCI's strategy of monopolising the entire market," the order said.
The policy of BCCI to keep out other competitors and to use their position as a defacto regulatory body has prevented many players who could have opted for the competitive league, it added.
Reacting to the development, the BCCI said it was "very unhappy" with the move of the fair trade regulator.
"We at BCCI do not agree with the findings of the Competition Commission. The BCCI doesn't need to indulge in any sort of anti-comptitive practice and we are very unhappy with this decision. We are planning to seek legal recourse and appeal against the decision," a senior BCCI office-bearer said.