Constitution Bench to hear Zee's plea

Justice Hegde said that the bench would request the chief justice to refer the case to a higher bench as the petition filed by Zee raised constitutional issues.

The broadcaster, in a petition, alleged that BCCI is, inter-alia, recognised by the government of India as the regulatory authority for cricket in India and that it is performing one of the most important public functions for the country with the authorisation and recognition by the government of India.

The court also issued notices to all the parties including the government of India, ESPN-Star Sports and PricewaterhouseCoopers and asked them to be prepared to resume arguments from Tuesday.

Counsel for Zee, Harish Salve, yesterday said that the broadcasting company was only challenging the cancellation of the contract, which is mala fide and illegal. He contended that Zee Telefilms had emerged as the highest bidder at $308 million for the telecast rights and has already paid $20 million to BCCI.

He alleged that the BCCI had entered into a long and arduous negotiation process (with ESPN Software) contrary to the guidelines issued by the Central Vigilance Commission, which barred negotiations except with the highest bidder.