The All India Chess Federation (AICF) has been battling court cases for over a decade. Among the cases, the one filed by former National junior champion Gurpreet Pal Singh and three others stands out for a special reason. (see chronology)
Gurpreet was one of the 151 players whose international rating was removed, at the behest of the AICF, by the world chess federation, after they took part in a series of so-called “unauthorised” events between late 2009 and 2012. These events offered over Rs. 2 crore in prize money.
Since then, a vast majority of barred, helpless players surrendered to AICF's arm-twisting tactics — when it offered clemency. One of the conditions was to pay the AICF 50% of their prize money from these “unauthorised” events.
Since August 2011, the AICF has been rapped on the knuckles a few times by the Delhi High Court and the Madras High Court. Moreover, the enquiry report of the Competition Commission of India (CCI) favoured the players.
Gurpreet says, “I have paid much more to the lawyers than what I was required to pay AICF for clemency. All the harassment from AICF, which wrote to my employers and even to FIDE to direct an organizer in London to prevent my participation in an event, has steeled my resolve to restore a player’s right to play. So far, the favourable directives from the Courts have kept me going.”
Sample this: The Delhi High Court, in November 2011, while ordering an enquiry by the CCI, observed, “The issue is with regard to the right of the players of chess to form another association and to organize tournaments in the country with the involvement of or the blessings of respondent No 2 (the AICF). The issue is with regard to the right of the players to freely participate in tournaments so organized, without the fear of being hounded by respondent No. 2 (the AICF) and without the fear of the Sword of Domacles falling on their heads if they participate in the so called illegal or unauthorized tournaments."
More pertinently, in January 2017, Justice M. S. Ramesh of Madras High Court vacated the interim relief to AICF and noted, “The interim order granted by this Court has caused much damage not only to the respondents (the players) but also to prospective chess players throughout the country.”
When it comes to dealing with players, the National Sports Federation (NSF) office-bearers' high-handedness often comes forth. Even in situations where a meaningful dialogue can be effective, some officials flex their muscles and demonstrate their power.
Though the players may have won a few battles, the war goes on.
CHRONOLOGY OF EVENTS
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