BCCI is a ‘shop’ and must abide by ESI Act: HC
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BCCI is a ‘shop’ and must abide by ESI Act: HC


Mumbai: The Bombay high court has held that the Employees State Insurance Act (ESI) is applicable to the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), stating it has “no hesitancy to hold that the nature of activities conducted by the Board are commercial in nature and, hence, covered under the term ‘shop’ for the purpose of ESI Act”.

The June 24 judgment of Justice Bharati Dangre came on the BCCI’s appeal against an order passed by the ESI Court, which sought quantification of the employer’s contribution from the board. The ESI Act is social welfare legislation to benefit employees. In 1978, the state had expanded its applicability to ‘shops’ that employ more than 20 persons for wages.

However, on a request by BCCI counsel Aditya Thakkar, who argued that the board is an “autonomous non-profit” body to promote cricket to which the Act can’t apply, the HC stayed its judgment for six weeks to enable the board to move the Supreme Court.

The ESI court order of September 2021 had declared that BCCI — a society registered in Chennai— is covered within the meaning of ‘shop’ under a September 1978 notification issued by the state government. Though not defined under the Act, the Oxford Dictionary defines ‘shop’ as “a building or part of the building where goods or services are sold,” said the HC. The SC had said ‘shop’ deserves a liberal interpretation.

The HC said, “Applying the very same analogy to the BCCI, where on ascertaining its nature, functioning and object, it can be seen that the appellant is carrying out the commercial activity and earns money…As has been clearly admitted by (then CEO) Rahul Dinesh Johri…TV broadcasting rights are also sold by the board to TV companies by auction, which is again a systematic commercial activity. It earns an income from the IPL too.”

Justice Dangre added that “the fact that the Board engages itself in its various activities as indicated above, being purely commercial in nature”, there is no reason why the test as laid down by SC shall not apply since matches are arranged on sale of tickets.

Shailesh Pathak, counsel for the regional director-ESIC, opposed the appeal.

In June 2006, the board had 20 employees, according to a 2011 report, and in June 2011, ESIC-Mumbai declared that the BCCI is covered under the provisions of the ESI Act effective from January 1, 2007.

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