The Competition Commission of India (CCI) had received information from four chess players, who were subjected to disciplinary action by All India Chess Federation (AICF) for participation in a chess event not authorised by it. The case concerned several stipulations of AICF on chess players, organisation of chess tournaments, discretionary nomination of players, etc.
After detailed investigation by the Director General, CCI conducted further inquiry in the matter and found AICF to enjoy dominant position in the markets for organisation of professional chess tournaments/ events in India and services of chess players in India. In its order under Section 27 of the Act, CCI observed that AICF’s restriction on chess players to participate in unauthorised events and attendant punitive consequences restricted the movement of chess players and placed them and potential organisers of chess tournaments in a disproportional disadvantage. Hence, such stipulation was held as an unreasonable restriction on chess players and denial of market access to organisers of chess events/ tournaments, in contravention of the provisions of Section 4(1) read with 4(2)(b)(1) and Section 4(2)(c) of the Act. The restrictions on chess players was further held to be in the nature of exclusive distribution and refusal to deal, in contravention of Section 3(4)(c) and Section 3(4)(d) of the Act. Accordingly, CCI directed that AICF shall cease and desist from the conducts that is found anti-competitive. AICF shall lay down the process and parameters governing authorisation/ sanctioning of chess tournaments. In doing so, AICF will ensure that they are necessary to serve the interest of the sport changes and shall be applied in a fair, transparent and equitable manner. Besides, AICF shall take all possible measure(s) to ensure that competition is not impeded while preserving the objective of development of chess in the country; and AICF shall establish prejudice caused by a chess player before taking any disciplinary action against him. Needless to say, the disciplinary actions taken shall be proportional, fair and transparent. The disciplinary actions against the Informant and other similar players shall be reviewed by AICF on these lines;
AICF will now file a report to the Commission on the compliance of the aforesaid directions from (a) to (c) within a period of 60 days from the receipt of this order. Also, a penalty of INR 6.92 lakhs was also imposed on AICF for indulging into the anti-competitive conduct.