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High court declines plea on ICC contract

New Delhi, Feb. 18 (PTI): Delhi High Court today declined a plea for “disposal” of a petition challenging the International Cricket Council’s players’ contract.

A bench of acting Chief Justice Devinder Gupta and Justice Bader Durez Ahmed rejected the plea by the World Cup’s official sponsors on a public interest litigation filed by former Indian cricket board president N.K.P. Salve, former Punjab Governor Siddhartha Shankar Ray, former Indian cricketers Kapil Dev and Madan Lal and two others.

The hearing has been adjourned till April 22.

The high court said it could not issue a direction at this stage because the Supreme Court, in an interim order on January 31, had made remittance of foreign exchange to the tournament’s official sponsors — LG Electronics, Pepsi Co and Hero Honda — subject to its further orders.

The apex court had passed the interim ruling following an appeal by LG challenging an earlier order from the high court restraining the Indian government and the Reserve Bank of India from releasing any foreign exchange by the Indian cricket board to the ICC.

The PIL had become infructous as the Indian team was allowed to participate in the tournament, contended LG’s counsel Gopal Jain and Pratibha Singh, representing Pepsi Co.

The court did not agree with their contention and said the PIL had raised some other issues apart from the fact that the matter was pending before the apex court.

LG had challenged the high court order on the ground that the Indian cricket board had invoked an arbitration clause regarding the ICC contract before the international court of arbitration in Switzerland and thus, the high court had no jurisdiction to entertain the PIL.

The ICC had imposed “strict and unreasonable” conditions on Indian players despite nearly 82 per cent of its sponsorship funds being generated from India, the PIL said.

These conditions were imposed by the Indian cricket board at the behest of the World Cup’s official sponsors, which had commercial rivalry with those who sponsored Indian players individually, it added.

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