Now, breach of privacy charges against AICF official

By Venkatachari Jagannathan
Chennai, Dec 9 (IANS) After forgery, now the allegation of data theft and breach of privacy violating the Information Technology Act have been levelled against a senior official of the All India Chess Federation (AICF).

The allegations have been levelled by AICF President P.R. Venketrama Raja against Secretary Bharat Singh Chauhan in a show-cause notice. According to the December 6 notice, Chauhan has been asked to explain various charges.

One of the charges is that Chauhan secured Raja’s permission to commission Prachura to develop a chess app.

According to the notice, contrary to the limited permission given for development of the mobile app by Prachura, Chauhan had entered into an understanding with Thought Roots India, better known as Nutr, for the mobile app development keeping the AICF central council in the dark.

“Further, without authority and surreptitiously, you signed a non-disclosure agreement with them on January 15, 2019,” the notice says.

“More importantly, you had allowed Nutr to have complete access to our players/coaches/arbiters/other resulting in breach of privacy and theft of data, which is violation of the Information Technology Act,” the notice states.

According to the notice, Nutr started behaving like a parallel AICF by sending mails to players as “TEAM AICF” owing to the illegal access to the AICF data base. “They also started generating and allotting their own AICF ID. Further, you have allowed them to collect money on behalf of the AICF,” it states.

“Even today, Nutr is committing data theft and is claiming to be a part of the AICF as well as committing intellectual property violations,” the notice said.

The AICF President also questioned Chauhan on allowing Nutr to do chess coaching business with chess Grand Master (GM) Farrukh Amonatav when he was on official visit, sponsored by the government, in September.

“Your conduct of allowing this improper act and allowing Nutr to make false claims, raises a doubt of tacit or arrangement between Nutr and you, compromising the interest of the AICF,” Raja told Chauhan in the notice.

The other charges against Chauhan included refusal to place matters pertaining to Nutr and Amonatav as part of the agenda at the central council meeting in Delhi on October 15, flouting norms for selecting Women International Masters for round robin tournament and issuing a press release beyond the brief given by the AICF President.

As regards the forgery charge, the Sports Authority of India (SAI) in the November 26 letter has asked the AICF to refund Rs 10 lakh, alleging the utilisation certificate submitted by the latter was a forged document and also asked Raja to set up a three-member panel to probe the issue and submit a report.

The SAI has also asked the AICF to submit details of all national championships since 2014, including the host unit, amount sanctioned by the SAI and whether funds sanctioned were diverted to third party, other than the state chess federation, to conduct such championships.

According to the SAI, it had received bills from the AICF relating to the 44th National Sub-Junior and the 35th National Sub-Junior Girls’ Chess Championships held in West Bengal from July 17-25, 2018.

“Based on a complaint, the matter was examined as such clarification was sought from Asraful Islam & Co, chartered accountants, which has supposedly signed the utilisation certificate of the AICF. In response, Asraful Islam & Co said the certificate submitted by the AICF is false and the seal and signature doesn’t belong to it,” SAI said in the letter to the AICF Secretary.

“The charges are serious and perhaps it’s time for an independent body to oversee the affairs of the AICF and set things right,” said Karun Duggal, one of the players who had won the case against the AICF filed with the Competition Commission of India (CCI).

Nigel Short, Vice-President of FIDE-global chess body, had recently said the AICF was anti-player and cited the order by the CCI.

The AICF had banned several players for playing in an unaffiliated tournament and also persuaded the FIDE to revoke their ELO ratings. While the FIDE has restored the ELO ratings of over 50 Indian players, the AICF has not readmitted players into its fold.

Despite several attempts by IANS, Chauhan and officials of Thought Roots India couldn’t be contacted.

–IANS
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