In the case of illegal termination of the agreement of Baseline Ventures India Pvt Ltd for the conduct of Pro Volleyball League by the Volleyball Federation of India, the federation received a major blow today with the sole arbitrator appointed on the case by the Hon’ble high court of Chennai today ruling that there is no financial irregularity in the accounts submitted by Baseline Ventures to the federation. The federation in its termination letter dated 19th November 2019 had stated that widespread manipulation of accounts was done and it was one of the major reasons for terminating the agreement. The arbitrator stated that the audit report submitted by Baseline does not suggest any manipulation of the accounts and that the federation has no reason to claim any manipulation.
While observing that the federation had not undertaken the due process mentioned in the agreement for termination the arbitrator also stated that apart from earning INR 3.5 Cr from the league, the federation had gained everything from the conduct of the league. The players who were usually remunerated in the range of INR 40-50k were paid in the range of INR 5-8 lakh through the league while also nurturing and honing the competitiveness of the players and also earning public adulation and support.
On the matter of IP rights of the league which was another reason given by the Federation for termination of the agreement, the arbitrator stated that the matter has no relevance for the present of the league as the IP rights are non-transferrable as per the terms of the agreement.
For the benefit of the players and the development of the sport the arbitrator stated that the Federation may initiate process of its own league but with the stringent condition that it should declare the pendency of arbitral proceedings and that any fresh contract will be subject to finalisation of the decision of the arbitral tribunal. The federation would also need to return Baseline INR 2.25 Cr before initiating any such process which would be over and above the damages claim which Baseline is entitled to file.