Express News Service
NEW DELHI: The Delhi Supreme Court has suspended the All India Chess Federation (AICF) tender to host the ‘Indian Chess League’, ‘Online Chess League’ and ‘Chess in School’ after a petition was filed declaring the federation accused of refusing to clearly inform bidders of the nature of the contract and scope of work.
A two-judge bench, made up of Judges Vipin Sanghi and Jasmeet Singh, said in its injunction on Wednesday uploaded a day later: “The petitioner is saddened by the clandestine manner in which Defendants Nos. 1 and 2 have attempted to enter write the services … (It) was completely cryptic and no tender terms were distributed to the potential and interested bidders.”
The injunction further read: “Despite the petitioner asking relevant questions in order to obtain information, there was no response and no response to those questions. We are therefore inclined to dissuade Respondent Nos. 1 & 2 from awarding the contract in respect of the said tender, or perform any work in respect thereof, if the tender is awarded, until the next date”.
The next hearing is on February 16. The written petition from bidder Shivalik Poultries named the AICF as respondent number one, AICF honorary secretary Bharat Singh Chauhan as respondent 2, and the Center through Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports as the third respondent.
AICF asked for an exorbitant and unaffordable deposit: Submitter
The Union of India becomes a party as the AICF is a National Sports Federation recognized by the Government of India. The new Indian Express was the first newspaper to raise the issue of the lack of transparency in the AICF tender process and the concerns of the bidders. The applicant had enclosed a copy of the newspaper article with the application.
The AICF has decided to hold the Indian Chess League (ICL) from June 2022, modeled on the hugely popular Indian Premier League (IPL), organized by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). Like the IPL, the ICL will have multiple franchises that own multiple players from India and abroad. The event is expected to generate thousands of crores in revenue.
In addition to the ICL, the AICF plans to host two additional events, namely ‘Online Chess League’ and ‘Chess in School’. An advertisement appeared last month inviting interested parties to organize these events. The lack of detail in this advertisement confused the potential bidders.
The advertisement read as follows: “The All India Chess Federation invites companies to submit an expression of interest for a proposed Online Chess League and partner in Chess in School program to be held from 2022. Interested experienced parties with a sound financial background can submit their applications with full details to email: firstname.lastname@example.org before December 25, 2021.”
This advertisement is also available on the AICF website aicf.in.
Apart from the lack of clarity about what constitutes a “sound financial background” and what “full details” bidders were required to provide, potential bidders noted the lack of solicitation for a proposal, which is commonly released to determine the scope of work, financial arrangements and qualification criteria, surprisingly.
There was also no pre-bid meeting to provide details about the project. The clarification requested by bidders has not received a satisfactory response from the federation. One of the bidders therefore went to court.
It said AICF asked for an exorbitant and prohibitive deposit of Rs 50 lakh without providing a tender document and without even giving the most basic details. It said no information is available on the website, no information is available in advertisements and nothing is being disclosed by the AICF.
It said: “despite numerous communications from the petitioner, Defendant No. 1 does not disclose (a) tender document, (b) what specific rights are being offered under the tender, what is the scope and duration of the rights being offered ( c) how the Online Chess League and Partner in Chess program will be conducted (d) what costs will be borne by the successful bidder and which costs will be borne by Defendant No. 1 (e) there is no solicitation for proposal (f) the scope, nature and duration of the rights awarded in the tender; (g) the procedure followed for tenders and (h) the qualification of the tender”.