New Delhi: Strengthening the Board of Control for Cricket in India's (BCCI) case, the Delhi High Court on Wednesday ruled that no foreign exchange would be allowed to go to the International Cricket Council, either in form of sponsorship money or as damages by BCCI, if India was debarred from playing in the World Cup. Admitting a public interest litigation on the vexed contracts issue, the High Court in an interim order also ruled that the advertisements of official World Cup sponsors from India - Pepsi, LG and Hero Honda - would not be allowed to be telecast in case of India's non-participation.
A division bench comprising Acting Chief Justice Devinder Gupta and Justice B D Ahmed, said that in case ICC takes any action against Indian players for their failure to agree to its contracts, the government and Reserve Bank of India would ensure that no foreign exchange is released from the country. The same would hold true if BCCI is penalised by ICC for not honouring its commitments under the Participating Nations Agreement, the court said. The court gave seven days to the respondents to file their replies on the petition moved by former BCCI president N K P Salve and former cricketers Kapil Dev and Madan Lal among others.
It fixed February 18 as the next date of hearing. The Indian cricketers have signed the players' contracts but made it clear that they would not abide by the controversial sponsorship clauses, which restricts them from endorsing the products of non-official sponsors. Besides, ICC and its marketing arms, the court on Friday had sought replies from the Centre, BCCI, its president Jagmohan Dalmiya, RBI and eight sponsoring companies, on the petition seeking a prohibition on release of foreign exchange to Indian sponsors of the World Cup if the Indian players were debarred from the upcoming tournament in South Africa.
The other petitioners were former West Bengal Chief Minister Siddhartha Shankar Ray and international umpires Ram Babu Gupta and Shyam Kumar Bansal. Senior advocate Anil Divan, appearing for ICC had told the court on Friday that through a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) on the controversy, a proxy war was being fought on behalf of BCCI. He said petitioners have no locus standi and as per the Participating Nation Agreement (PNA) signed by the BCCI, any dispute arising in the contract has to be settled by arbitration.