The Board of Cricket Control of India on 17 July 2020 was asked by the courts to pay an arbitration award of Rs. 4,800 to Deccan Chronicle for the premature and illegal termination of the Deccan Chargers, one of eight first franchises in the Indian Premier League (IPL) formed for Twenty20 cricket. The award was passed in favor of the Deccan Chronicle group by a court-appointed arbitrator in Mumbai for premature termination of its IPL franchise.
The damages and compensation allowed by the arbitrator amount to Rs 4,814.67 crore plus 10% interest per year from the date of the initiation of arbitration proceedings (in 2012) plus costs of Rs 50 lakh. The BCCI’s counterclaim was also allowed in part.
The announcement of the Rs. 4,800 arbitration award on 17 July 2020 came just hours before the BCCI apex council was to meet to discuss the IPL and taxes concerning the upcoming World Cup. Maneesha Dhir, the managing partner of Dhir and Dhir Associates, lawyers for the Deccan Chronicle, confirmed the award to the financial press. The interim chief executive of the BCCI Hemang Amin is reported to have told the Economic Times, “We haven’t received the judgment copy yet. Only after reading, we will decide the next plan of action. ”
The BCCI terminated the franchise following an emergency meeting of the IPL governing council one day before the Deccan Chronicle deadline to submit a Rs. 100 crore bank guarantee. When Deccan Chronicle failed to furnish a bank guarantee of Rs. 100 crore from a nationalized bank to the BCCI earlier in 2012, the BCCI issued a show-cause notice to the company. The company was given 30 days to rectify the deficiency. However, a day before the notice period was supposed to end, on 15 September 2012, the franchise was canceled following an emergency meeting of the BCCI governing board.
The arbitrator found that not only was the termination premature but adding to the haste was the fact that the matter was rectified by the promoters within the time period. It also held that as the other franchises – found guilty of betting – were banned only for a limited number of seasons, that too on the direction of the Supreme Court, the Chargers termination was arbitrary and unfair.
In 2017, the Kochi Tuskers team won a similar arbitration case over its termination six years earlier by the BCCI. It is also publicly reported that the IPL, which is the world’s most popular Twenty20 cricket league has been plagued by controversy since its start in 2008, and several cases of corruption and match-fixing. A spot-fixing scandal in 2013 led to the Chennai Super Kings and the Rajasthan Royals being suspended for two seasons.
The Deccan Chronicle newspaper group, which lists several news publications on its website, has also struggled for more than a decade. Nevertheless, it still claims that it is the most widely circulated English daily in South India, with more than 1.4 million copies. This figure would be debatable even in normal times, and in the present circumstances of the Covid-19 pandemic cannot be either contested or verified. The group has been in financial stress for some years and has closed plants that have been repossessed by its bank lenders who have also been able to sell some of the press machinery.