The Volleyball Federation of India have been ordered to pay Rs 4 crores as compensation and five lakhs as legal fees to Baseline Ventures after it was adjudged that national federation had wrongfully terminated the organisation’s contract for conduting the Pro Volleyball League.
Sole arbitrator, Mr. Justice K. Kannan (Retd.,) delivered a judgement in favour of Baseline Ventures, as confirmed by Baseline’s vice president Joy Bhattacharya.
Apart from that, the court has also ordered VFI to pay an additional 12% interest from the date of commencement of arbitral proceedings till the date of payment that amounts to approximately an additional Rs. 45 lakhs in interest payment as of now.
In the original termination notice issued by VFI, the federation had said “the conduct of the Baseline was replete with high-headedness, unfair commercial practices, unethical practices, non-payment of minimum guarantee fee on time and actions which were against the terms of the agreement.”
“All the allegations by VFI against Baseline pertaining to the breach of contract have been dismissed and it has been categorically stated that the termination was not justified. The judgements further dismissed the counter claim of Rs. 14.93 crores made by the VFI against Baseline Ventures,” the statement issued by Baseline Ventures said.
The first season of the Pro Volleybal League was held in February 2019 but VFI and Baseline Ventures who had signed a ten-year contract to conduct the league went into disputes. Scroll.in had earlier reported that the VFI was dilly-dallying on giving specific dates while attempting to get more financial control over the league’s functioning.
After the verdict, Baseline Ventures confirmed that they intend to hand over the IPR of the PVL to the VFI.
“Given the capricious nature of VFI’s actions over the past year, we had absolutely no confidence that this nature of event would not happen again considering the blatant display of malafide intent on the federations part and more valuable money would be lost by all stakeholders including Baseline who were paying crores of money to be associated with the League,” Tuhin Mishra, Co-Founder and Managing Director Baseline Ventures, said in the statement.
“So we voluntarily gave up the option of reinstatement of our rights even before the proceedings. We are happy to hand over the logo rights to VFI, we just want our damages to be paid before any commercial agreements are executed by VFI,” he added.
UPDATE: Ramavtar Singh Jakhar, who was the VFI secretary general when the dispute arose, said the federation is filing an appeal against the decision of the arbitrator, PTI reported.
“The VFI is definitely filing an appeal. I have briefed the new office bearers about the matter and the VFI executive committee will soon take a decision on how to file the appeal,” Jakhar told PTI.
Member of Parliament Achyuta Samanta and Anil Choudhary were recently elected as president and secretary general of the VFI.
Baseline vice-president Bhattacharjya, who helmed the league in its first season, said, “This judgement is a total vindication of the fact that the VFI had absolutely no grounds to terminate the contract after a successful season.
“It’s important that they are held accountable not just to us, but to all the volleyball players and coaches who were the most impacted by their wilful actions. This is a victory for fair play in Indian sport.”
(With PTI inputs)
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