HC dubs tender process cancellation as ~~improper~~

Published: Monday, March 21, 2005, 23:53 [IST]
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Chennai:Coming down heavily on former Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) president Jagmohan Dalmiya, the Madras High Court today (March 21, 2005) held that last September's termination of tender process for telecasting cricket matches in the country over a four-year period was "unjust, illegal and the result of bias against the petitioner (Zee telefilms)."

Disposing of a writ petition filed by Zee against BCCI's decision to cancel the tender process after accepting its offer of $308 million, to meet that made by ESPN, for being provided the telecast rights, Justice K P Sivasubramanian said that no relief could be granted to the petitioner.

He said "cancellation of the tender process by the Board is improper and vitiated by arbitrariness and unfair action of the Board and Dalmiya in particular."

Leaving it to Zee to sue the BCCI for damages, if any, in a civil court, the Judge said after the ongoing home series of Test and One-day cricket matches with Pakistan were over, the Board could call for fresh tenders for telecast of international cricket matches in the country.

"Both Zee and ESPN are entitled to take part in the fresh tender," the judge said in his 140-page order.

Overruling objections raised by counsel for the Board and Dalmiya on the question of the petition's maintainability, the judge held that Zee was a victim of the Board's unfair action.

"It is a matter of regret that no positive relief can be provided," he said.

Justice Sivasubramanian said that he was even prepared to assume that Dalmiya did not have a good opinion about Zee's capacity to satisfy international standards and quality of televising matches and had honestly believed that the firm was not upto expectation.

"Even so the president of such a big institution should be above board and cannot act in a clandestine or unethical manner resulting in creating expectations and then loss to the petitioner," the Judge said.

He said the manner in which Dalmiya operated did not inspire confidence or reflect sufficient transparency or the expected level of ethics.

The judge pointed out that even though he held that cancellation of the tender process was unjust and illegal, it was also not possible to grant any positive relief to the petitioner in view of the fact that no firm letter of intenthad been issued.

"The court cannot order issue of contract in its own wisdom and tell the parties to accept any terms against their wish," he said adding it was not practically possible to put the parties and terms of the contract back in the very same position as it prevailed on September 5 last, when a specific amount had been quoted and agreed upon.

Merely because ESPN had filed a petition in the Bombay High Court to stop award of the contract to Zee on the ground that it did not have the requisite expertise or experience to telecast international cricket matches cannot lead to the BCCI "indulging in such unfair conduct which is not expected ofeven purely commercial minded establishments."

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