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ESI Act now applicable to BCCI after Supreme Court terms cricket board a 'shop'

BCCI happens to be the richest cricketing board in the world. Meanwhile, Supreme Court has termed the board as a shop that is only commercial and that it attracts ESI Act provisions.

ESI Act now applicable to BCCI after Supreme Court SC terms cricket board a shop-ayh
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First Published Aug 31, 2022, 4:24 PM IST

The activities of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) are commercial and can be termed as a "shop" to attract the provisions of the Employees State Insurance Act, the Supreme Court said on Wednesday. The top court said that the ESI Act is welfare legislation the Centre enacts. At the same time, it has forbidden from using narrow words used in the Act, which seeks to insure the employees, covering establishments against various risks to their life, health, and well-being. A bench comprising of Justices MR Shah and PS Narasimha said that no error was committed by the ESI Court and/or the High Court in treating and evaluating the BCCI as a shop for the ESI Act applicability.

"Considering the systematic activities being carried out by the BCCI, namely, selling of tickets of cricket matches; providing entertainment; rendering the services for a price; receiving the income from international tours and the income from the Indian Premier League, the ESI Court, as well as the High Court, have rightly concluded that the BCCI is carrying out systematic economic, commercial activities and, therefore, the BCCI can be said to be 'shop' for the purposes of attracting the provisions of ESI Act," the bench was quoted as saying.

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The top court addressed whether the BCCI can be said to be a 'shop' according to the September 18, 1978 notification and if the ESI Act provisions apply to the BCCI. The Bombay High Court had voiced that the BCCI is covered within the meaning of 'shop' as per the September 18, 1978, notification issued by the Maharashtra government under Section 1(5) of the Employees State Insurance Act, 1948, provisions.

The top court stated that the term 'shop' must not be comprehended and analysed in its conventional sense, as the same would not serve the objective of the ESI Act. It said a broad meaning might be assigned to the word 'shop' for the ESI Act purpose. The apex court communicated the submission on BCCI's behalf that its principal exercise is to promote cricket/sports. Therefore, the same cannot be obtained within the connotation of 'shop' to apply the ESI Act, which has no substance.

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"It is also required to be noted that while holding so, the High Court has also taken into consideration the relevant clauses of the Memorandum of Association of the BCCI to come to the conclusion that the activities of the BCCI can be said to be systematic commercial activities providing entertainment by selling tickets, etc. The Memorandum of Association as a whole is required to be considered," added the bench.

"In view of the above and for the reasons stated above, we see no reason to interfere with the impugned judgement and order passed by the High Court as well as the ESI Court. As such, we are in complete agreement with the view taken by the High Court. The special leave petitions stand dismissed accordingly," the bench concluded.

(With inputs from PTI)

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