The All India Chess Federation (AICF) staff are yet to receive their February salaries due to various issues including the internal squabble between the factions led by president P R Venketrama Raja and secretary Bharat Singh Chauhan.
While Chauhan said clearance of cheques to pay staff salaries and for other payments depended on its banker (Indian Bank), AICF Treasurer Kishor M Bandekar claimed the secretary's signature was mandatory and he was not signing citing "lack of authority." Chauhan said only the (AICF) general body (GB) had the authority to decide on the payments, adding unless it was held nothing could be done.
"All the payments have to be approved by the general body. Unfortunately, we are not able to convene the GB," he added. He also said the Indian bank officials had told him that they were seeking legal opinion on the clearance of AICF cheques. Bandekar, on the other hand, said it was Chauhan who was not signing the cheques. "I have been requesting the secretary to sign but he has been refusing saying he does not have the authority and that the GB has to decide," he said.
"Salaries of the staff for February are due. Also, March salaries will be due soon. There are other dues and the issue will be taken up with the bank." Bandekar said the AICF Secretary and Treasurer are among the two authorised signatories for signing cheques on behalf of AICF and due to technical issues the payments are pending. The factions led by Venketrama Raja and Chauhan have been at loggerheads over various issues. Their bickering saw the AICF elections being taken to court.
The Madras High Court had appointed retired Supreme Court Justice F M Ibrahim Kalifulla last month as Returning Officer to conduct the Federation elections. He had declared Ajay H Patel elected as President, Chauhan as Secretary, Naresh Sharma as Treasurer, M Arun Singh as Joint Secretary, and Vipnesh Bharadwaj as Vice President. After the new office-bearers assumed office, the High Court set aside their election and asked Kalifulla to convene a Special General Body Meeting to conduct fresh elections after an appeal by President Venketrama Raja.
Subsequently, the Supreme Court dismissed an appeal by Chauhan against the High Court's order. Earlier this month, the court-appointed election returning officer had ordered All India Chess Federation to deposit Rs 58.50 lakh towards providing remuneration to himself and other charges to begin the election process according to the National Sports Development Code. Meanwhile, the AICF has shut its office in Chennai and staff are working from home following the coronavirus pandemic, which has also resulted in cancellation/postponement of various events in India and across the world.