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Cricket board caught in a cleft stick as DDCA rejects Lodha commitee recomendations

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BCCI

New Delhi: BCCI is divided as The Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA) rejects the recommendations of the Justice Rajendra Mal Lodha Committee on fair governance and accountability.DDCA thus becomes the only unit affiliated to the Indian cricket board to have rejected almost all the recommendations.

It was only expected of the DDCA to reject the recommendations lock stock and barrel when others state units have problems with certain portions of the comprehensive report prepared at the Supreme Court’s will.

The DDCA has the temerity to say that so long as its directors- it is registered under Companies Act- do not feel that there is any justification to change the system for the sake of uniformity, it will remain as it is. Thus, it also wants to continue with the obnoxious proxy voting system.

The Delhi association has a problem with every clause and does not want to change as it has perfected the art of circumventing the existing laws/rules/regulations over the years.

The apex court did not stop at accepting the committee’s report suggesting structural reforms in the functioning of the board in a clean transparent manner. It is firm on its implementation.

Chief Justice T S Thakur and Justice Fakkir Mohamed Ibrahim Kalifulla gave little room for the board to vacillate in implementing the recommendations without any reservations, saying since the committee held extensive deliberations with all stakeholders there should be no difficulty in accepting them.

The cricket board did not say anything immediately and had a long pause before murmurs started from state associations about the practical difficulties they will face in complying with the report.

The court kept the door ajar by asking the board to file its response before the next hearing on March 3. It also said in no uncertain terms that if the board has any problems in implementing the recommendations it will ask the Lodha Committee to ensure the implementation!

After the court has made its intention clear, the board has been left with little scope for any manoeuvre unless the committee agrees to listen to its pleas and tweak some of the recommendations.

Two weeks after the Supreme Court missive, the board called a Special General Meeting (SGM) on Friday but did not take up a clause-by-clause discussion, saying that the state associations sent on their observations and the board have its own.

So the board decided to file an affidavit with its secretary explaining why some of the recommendations are unimplementable and at the same time asked the state units to do likewise on the clauses affecting their functioning.

The board is identifying the people who have fed the committee with some weird inputs and want to impress upon it that most of the people who deposed before it have been at it for a number of years.

The board officials may name some lawyers, former players and event management companies who they feel have a grouse against the board and used the opportunity to settle scores.

The board anticipated the turn of events and will now flood the court with a spate of affidavits expressing their points of view over the implementation of the report in toto.

They may cite hurdles in implementing the one-state-one-vote norm, age cap and term of office and a cooling off period between two terms, funding players’ associations and including franchise owners in the Governing Council of the Indian Premier League (IPL).

However, the board will explain the issues that can crop up in changing its registration and amending its by-laws as it claims it can not dictate to the state units to change their constitutions. That’s the reason the states have been asked to file different affidavits.

Maharashtra, Mumbai and Vidarbha, Saurashtra, Gujarat and Baroda are unwilling to lose their voting rights and so are the Universities, Railways, Services, Cricket Club of India (CCI) and National Cricket Club (NCC).

Removing Services, Railways and Universities will in one stroke take away the government’s influence over the board to a large extent. These three votes invariably tilted the balance in the election. One can understand the CCI remaining as a voting member, but certainly not the NCC.

Mumbai and Saurashtra also do not want to lose their key officials, president Sharad Pawar, 75, and secretary Niranjan Shah, 71, respectively under the 70-year age cap.

Most of the state associations have also expressed reservations about a three-member selection committee saying it is well-nigh impossible for them to cover the entire country with more and more states joining the board. Strangely, this is one of the demands made for ages to remove regional bias.

The court stated that it could keep the Lodha panel alive so that it could help the BCCI overcome difficulties it might face in implementing the recommendations. Justice Lodha might become to the board what Justice Mukul Mudgal is for the DDCA!

Some senior office-bearers of the board are miffed at one-man-one-post norm as they do not want to lose their grip over their state associations which give them the clout to get on the board.

As is the case in this country, someone is already working to circumvent the recommendations just as a loophole in then sports minister Margaret Alva’s government guidelines permitted the czars of Indian sport to retain their control over the federations in some capacity after finishing their term as president/secretary/treasurer. Here, the Lodha Committee is clear that there has to be a cooling off period after one term in any capacity.

It will not be easy for the board and its affiliates to convince the Committee to dilute the report, but at the same time, it will find it difficult to implement.

The board is caught in a cleft stick! (Veturi Srivatsa, IANS)

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CCI to Investigate Flipkart, Amazon Deep Discounting on Mobile Phones: Report

This leads to other competitors being excluded and foreclosed from the market. It is stated that any benefit to the consumers is only apparent at the initial stage till critical mass of network effects is reached or competitors are eliminated

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Amazon
Amazon has the largest storage space -- 260 million cubic space available for any seller to use. Sellers continue to use Amazon's facilities so that they do not have to do the operational logistics to ship the product. VOA

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has launched an investigation to find out if the exclusive arrangements, deep discounting and preferential listing by e-commerce marketplaces like Amazon and Flipkart for mobile phones are causing an adverse effect on competition.

The CCI on Monday passed directions for investigation under Section 26(1) of the Competition Act, 2002. The order was passed by Ashok Kumar Gupta, chairman, Sangeeta Verma and Bhagwant Singh Bishnoi, both members.

In a 11 page order, the CCI observed that the exclusive arrangements between smartphone/mobile phone brands and e-commerce platform/select sellers selling exclusively on either of the platforms, coupled with the allegation of linkages between these preferred sellers and e-commerce companies merits an investigation.

The CCI noted that though these platforms are used for selling various categories of products, for some categories the online channel constitutes a predominant channel of distribution. Smartphones is one such category of product. The Informant has claimed that Amazon and Flipkart had 36 per cent and 53 per cent market share, respectively, in the market for smartphones sold on online marketplaces in India in the first quarter of the year 2019.

On careful perusal of allegations levelled by the Informant and the documents provided, the Commission noted that there are four alleged practices on the marketplaces, namely, exclusive launch of mobile phones, preferred sellers on the marketplaces, deep discounting and preferential listing/promotion of private labels.

The first issue under examination is that of the exclusive launch of mobile phones on the two major e-commerce platforms. The Informant has provided a list of phones which were exclusively launched on the platforms. The Informant has provided the following evidence in the form of text messages to indicate that due to partnership between mobile manufacturer (Vivo Z1x and Vivo U10 models) and platforms (Flipkart and Amazon), offline retailers are forced to purchase smartphones either from manufacturers’ e-stores or from the platforms e-portals.

The Commission has also noted several reports in the media as well as advertisements by e-commerce portals regarding exclusive launches. Mobile manufacturing companies like One Plus, OPPO, and Samsung have exclusively launched several of their models on Amazon. Similarly, Vivo, Realme, Xiomi etc., have exclusively launched several of their models on Flipkart. In 2018, Flipkart launched 67 mobile phones and Amazon launched 45 mobile phones exclusively on its platform. 2 Thus, it appears that these mobile manufacturers partner with the e-commerce platforms and their brands are sold by the platforms’ exclusive sellers.

“It needs to be investigated whether the alleged exclusive arrangements, deep-discounting and preferential listing by the opposite parties (Ops) are being used as an exclusionary tactic to foreclose competition and are resulting in an appreciable adverse effect on competition contravening the provisions of Section 3 (1) read with Section 3(4) of the Act,” the order said.

“In view of the foregoing, the Commission is of the opinion that there exists a prima facie case which requires an investigation by the Director General (‘DG’), to determine whether the conduct of the OPs have resulted in contravention of the provisions of Section 3(1) of the Act read with Section 3(4) thereof, as detailed in this order,” it added.

Accordingly, the Commission directs the DG to cause an investigation to be made into the matter under the provisions of Section 26(1) of the Act. The Commission also directs the DG to complete the investigation and submit the investigation report within a period of 60 days from the receipt of this order.

Flipkart Buys Back Shares Worth $350 mn.
New e-commerce norms to impact e-tailers: Flipkart. IANS

The case was filed by Delhi Vyapar Mahasangh as the informant versus Flipkart Internet, owned by Walmart and Amazon Sellers, as opposite parties.

The traders body has stated that the that there are instances of several vertical agreements between Flipkart with their preferred sellers on the platform and Amazon with their preferred sellers, respectively which have led to a foreclosure of other non-preferred traders or sellers from these online marketplaces. It has been alleged that most of these preferred sellers are affiliated with or controlled by Flipkart or Amazon, either directly or indirectly.

On deep discounting, the complaint says that Flipkart provides deep discounts to a select few preferred sellers (such as Omnitech Retail) on its platform which adversely impacts non-preferred sellers such as members of the Informant from competing with such sellers on Flipkart’s online platform.

Similarly, Amazon has preferred sellers on its platform namely Cloudtail India (a joint venture between Amazon and Catamaran Ventures) and Appario Retail (a wholly owned subsidiary of a joint venture between Amazon and Ashok Patni which received a round of investment from Frontizo Business Services Ltd.) which are related to Amazon. Similar allegations of deep discounts by Amazon to the detriment of non-preferred sellers have been levelled.

On exclusive tie-ups and private labels, the complaint said that both the e-commerce players have several tie-ups and private labels which get more preference in terms of sales. The OPs’ private label brands, sold through their platforms, are routed through a few preferential sellers.

It is submitted by the Informant that this modus operandi is being employed by Flipkart across all categories, including smartphones. It is alleged that by having exclusive tie-ups in the relevant market with the smartphone companies, it provides exclusivity through discounting and preferential listings.

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This leads to other competitors being excluded and foreclosed from the market. It is stated that any benefit to the consumers is only apparent at the initial stage till critical mass of network effects is reached or competitors are eliminated.

“This arrangement has far-reaching consequences on the economy as the non-preferred sellers are relegated to sell only through traditional brick and mortar set-up which involves significant fixed costs and are devoid of wide pan-India reach which online marketplaces offer,” the complaint said.

Based on the evidence adduced by the Informant and information available in the public domain, it can be prima facie inferred, CCI said that there appears to be exclusive partnership between smartphone manufacturers and e-commerce platforms for exclusive launch of smartphone brands. Thus, exclusive launch coupled with preferential treatment to a few sellers and the discounting practices create an ecosystem that may lead to an appreciable adverse effect on competition, the order said. (IANS)