By Venkatachari Jagannathan
Chennai, Oct 26 (SocialNews.XYZ) The All India Chess Federation (AICF) has spent more than half a crore rupees as legal expenses in FY22 out of player's funds.
According to the AICF's annual accounts, it had spent Rs 50,52,450 in FY22 as legal expenses up from Rs 18,20,300 spent in FY21. In FY20, the Indian chess body had spent Rs 20,60,050 as legal expenses.
Chess players had been saying that the AICF has been spending a lot on legal fees fighting cases against the players and others.
Curiously, when asked for the break up of legal expenses incurred by it under the Right to Information Act, the AICF had said the records had been damaged/destroyed by pests.
This information is gleaned from the recent order of Central Information Commission (CIC) on an appeal filed by Fide Master Gurpreet Pal Singh.
"The AICF had earlier told the Competition Commission of India (CCI) that its records were destroyed by the Chennai floods in 2015," Singh told IANS.
At a hearing held at the CIC office on April 5, the AICF's Chief Public Information Officer (CPIO) had submitted that the requisite information pertains to the Chennai office and apprised the bench that the relevant records have been destroyed/damaged due to pests.
"Upon being queried by the Commission whether he has any proof for the same, he could not provide a cogent reply," the CIC order notes.
The CIC has ordered the AICF to provide the details sought by Singh.
The CIC also lashed out at the CPIO for providing mindless and incongruous and misleading replies, which were nothing but a clear dereliction of duty cast upon him under the RTI Act.
In 2019, Singh had sought from the AICF, with bifurcation as to the lawyer fees, travel expenditure, counselling fee and others for the period January 1, 2010 to April 31, 2019, its year wise expenditure in a case filed by it against the Competition Commission of India's (CCI) order before the Madras High Court, and the year wise expenditure incurred on defending case no 79/2011, Hemant Sharma vs AICF, before the CCI in Delhi.
He also wanted to know the total expenditure incurred by the AICF till date in appeal filed before the NCLAT, Delhi against the CCI order, and the total expenditure incurred in filing a case before the Madras High Court in a case filed by it against the CIC and others.
Some years back, the CCI had held that the conduct of AICF was in contravention of Section 4 of the Competition Act, 2002 and also imposed a penalty of Rs 6,92,350 under Section 27(b) of the Competition Act, 2002.
The AICF has gone on appeal against the CCI order at the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT).
Singh said the AICF would have spent several times over and above the fine of Rs 6.92 lakh levied by the CCI. For arguing the case in the CCI, the AICF lawyers came from Chennai.
"The AICF is spending players' money in fighting legal cases. The cases are filed so that some people can retain their power. Actually, the AICF funds should be spent for players' benefit like holding coaching camps," Singh said.
He also wondered as to the reason for the AICF seeking adjournments at the NCLAT.
(Venkatachari Jagannathan can be reached at email@example.com)