The Indian Competition Authority launches an investigation against a baseball federation and grants a rare interim injunction against the federation restraining its members’ participation in "not recognized" sports events (Confederation of Professional Baseball Softball Clubs / Amateur Baseball Federation of India)

The CCI considered at prima facie stage allegations by the Confederation of Professional Baseball Softball Clubs (CPBSC) that the Amateur Baseball Federation of India (ABFI) had abused its dominant position by prohibiting State Baseball Associations from dealing with bodies and leagues not recognised by it and by threatening disciplinary action against players who took part in unrecognised leagues and tournaments. [1]

In line with earlier orders, the CCI found that ABFI was an “enterprise” under the Competition Act as it controlled the provision of services. The CCI considered that, prima facie, the relevant market appeared to be the “market for the organisation of baseball leagues/events/ tournaments in India” and that the ABFI, given its apex position in the baseball ecosystem, its linkages with continental and international organisations, and its decisive role in the governance of baseball, was dominant in this market. In acting as it had, the ABFI had prima facie abused its dominant position by denying market access to other federations, limiting and restricting the provision of services and imposing an unfair condition on the players. The CCI also noted that the activity of ABFI, in writing to the affiliated State Baseball Associations requesting them not to entertain unrecognized bodies to conduct baseball events, could be captured under Section 3(1) together with Section 3(3) of the Competition Act, as facilitating anticompetitive horizontal agreements. Finding a prima facie case of breach of the Competition Act, the CCI therefore directed an investigation by the DG.

In a separate order made the same day, the CCI granted a rare interim injunction against the ABFI restraining it from issuing any communication to State Baseball Associations dissuading them from allowing their players to participate in tournaments organised by bodies not “recognised” by the ABFI and directing it not to threaten players who wished to participate in such events. [2] In the 2010 SAIL case, [3] the Supreme Court had made it clear that the power of the CCI to grant interim measures under Section 33 of the Competition Act had to be exercised sparingly and under compelling and exceptional circumstances and only where certain conditions had been satisfied. The CCI considered that all the ingredients for granting an interim injunction were overwhelmingly present in this case.

Footnotes

[1Confederation of Professional Baseball Softball Clubs v Amateur Baseball Federation of India, CCI, Case No. 03 of 2021 (3 June 2021) (Order under Section 26(1) of the Competition Act, 2002).

[2Confederation of Professional Baseball Softball Clubs v Amateur Baseball Federation of India, CCI, Case No. 03 of 2021 (3 June 2021) (Order under Section 33 of the Competition Act, 2002).

[3Competition Commission of India v Steel Authority of India (2010) 10 SCC 744.

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Authors

  • Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas (New Delhi)
  • Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas (New Delhi)
  • Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas (New Delhi)
  • Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas (New Delhi)
  • Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas (New Delhi)
  • Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas (New Delhi)
  • Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas (New Delhi)
  • Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas (Mumbai)
  • Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas (New Delhi)
  • Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas (New Delhi)

Quotation

Pallavi Shroff, John Handoll, Naval Satarawala Chopra, Shweta Shroff Chopra, Harman Singh Sandhu, Manika Brar, Aparna Mehra, Gauri Chhabra, Yaman Verma, Rohan Arora, The Indian Competition Authority launches an investigation against a baseball federation and grants a rare interim injunction against the federation restraining its members’ participation in "not recognized" sports events (Confederation of Professional Baseball Softball Clubs / Amateur Baseball Federation of India), 3 June 2021, e-Competitions June 2021, Art. N° 101763

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