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PIL filed in Bombay HC challenging India rights tender

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MUMBAI: The Board for Cricket Control in India (BCCI) was today hit with a public interest litigation (PIL) filed in the Bombay High Court alleging irregularities in the tender process for cricket broadcast rights.



The BCCI, which opened bidding only last Saturday, has invited tenders for cricket telecast rights for India cricket (international and domestic matches) to be played between 1 October 2004 and 30 September 2008.



Impleaded in the case are the Union ministry of sports, Union ministry of information & broadcasting, ESPN Star Sports, Ten Sports, Sony Entertainment TV India, Zee Telefilms, World Sport Nimbus and IMG/TWI, amongst others, informed sources say.



The PIL, filed by a certain Pednekar, a lawyer and "cricket lover" who plays the game at club level, has alleged that the BCCI tender is a mockery designed to favour foreign broadcasters. Among the charges laid out in the PIL are those relating to the mode of payment. The plea alleges that the BCCI's seeking payments in dollars/Euros was only aimed at disqualifying Indian broadcasters (according to FEMA [Foreign Exchange Management Act] regulations, an Indian entity cannot pay another Indian entity in foreign currency for transactions conducted within the country).



The second charge made in the PIL is that the tender has sweeping restrictions that are aimed at disqualifying all but the favoured few.



The PIL also draws attention to the short window period given for submitting tenders (the ad was placed last Saturday and the last day for submitting duly completed tender documents is Saturday, 14 August 2 pm at the BCCI headquarters in Mumbai). It has been further charged that the short period given to respond would mean that only those that had prior information as to the terms and conditions laid out by the BCCI would be able arrange all the necessary documents.



The plea filed before the High Court also lists a number of complaints against the functioning of the BCCI.

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