Cricket: Zee moves Madras High Court

NEW DELHI: Zee Telefilms has moved the Madras High Court challenging the cancellation of its telecast rights bid by the Indian cricket board, which it argues has led to a breach of its fundamental rights under Article 226 of the Indian Constitution.

According to company sources, the hearing is slated for tomorrow.

On 2 February, the Supreme Court ruled that the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) was not a 'State as defined under Article 12 of the Indian Constitution and, hence, cannot be sued for alleged violation of fundamental rights.

However, the apex court, while dismissing Zee's petition, had also suggested that some lower court could take up such cases under Article 226. The three-two split SC ruling is important,as the Indian cricket boards case would have a major impact on the autonomy of various sports bodies in the country and their subsequent functioning.

Zee Telefilms had contended that the BCCI was a'State' as it was selecting the Indian team and was given de facto recognition by the Indian government to carry out its functions. The petition had requested the apex court to scrutinise the Boards action of cancelling the bid for telecast under writ authority.

Zee Telefilms had originally won the cricket rights by bidding the highest amount of $ 260 million on 5 September, 2004 amongst other competitors that included ESPN Star Sports ($ 230 million), Indian pubcaster Prasar Bharati ($ 150 million), Sony Entertainment TV India ($ 140 million) and Dubai-based Ten Sports ($ 115 million).

Subsequently, as a drama unfolded revolving around the bidding process and various aspects of it, including technical criteria, Zee committed another Rs 940 million for the development of domestic cricket. ESS too, got into the act and upped the ante with a mind-boggling bid figure of $ 308 million, which Zee subsequently matched to be awarded the rights.

Then ESS, apart from legally challenging the award of the telecast rights by BCCI to Zee, later approached the Supreme Court seeking legal redressal against cancellation of the bidding process by the cricket board.

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