Dec 31, 2021

CCI Directs Investigation against Suburban Table Tennis Association, Maharashtra State Table Tennis Association, and Table Tennis Federation of India

On November 17, 2021, CCI directed the DG to investigate into the conduct of Suburban Table Tennis Association, (‘TSTTA’), Maharashtra State Table Tennis Association (‘MSTTA’), and Table Tennis Federation of India (‘TTFI’) based on the information filed by TT Friendly Super League Association (‘Informant’).[1]

The Informant is a non-governmental organisation established for the sole purpose of promotion of table tennis (‘TT’) in India. TSTTA is the district body headquartered in Mumbai responsible for conducting open district ranking tournaments in Mumbai Suburban jurisdiction for the selection of players to represent the state of Maharashtra as well as promotion of TT in its jurisdiction. MSTTA is the state body responsible for conducting open state ranking tournaments in Maharashtra, player selection to represent the state of Maharashtra, and promoting TT in the state of Maharashtra. TTFI is the national sports federation of TT in India, responsible for conducting national ranking tournaments, player selection to represent India in various international competitions. TTFI is also the apex body recognised by International Table Tennis Federation, and is also the affiliated member of Indian Olympic Association for regulation of TT in India.

The Informant was aggrieved by the denial of access to utilise the services of TT players by TSTTA and TTFI. TSTTA’s general secretary, through a notice communicated on WhatsApp, directed the players to refrain from entering into arrangements with unaffiliated bodies, including the consequence of suspension or non-acceptance of these players in their tournaments if they do so.

The Informant alleged that certain clauses of TTFI’s memorandum of association (‘MOA’) are anti-competitive in nature:

i.    Sanction for open tournament: The sanction to hold an open tournament was to be given only to a district unit in whose jurisdiction the club is situated.

ii.   Participation of players: Players of its federation were barred from participating in tournaments that were either not sanctioned or were prohibited by the council or committee of any affiliated association. A player participating in such unrecognised tournaments would be suspended or debarred from taking part in any open tournament organised by an affiliated association.

iii.  Clubs organising recognised tournaments: A club organising a recognised tournament was also prohibited from accepting players prohibited from taking part in any open tournament or competition.

CCI observed that the test of any entity being considered as an enterprise is based on the functional than formal approach. If the business activity of the entity is economic in nature (where the commercial nature or profit-making nature of the entity is inconsequential), the entity qualifies to be an enterprise in terms of Section 2(h) of the Act. Based on the activities of the opposite parties, being TSTTA, MSTTA and TTFI, CCI held them to be an ‘enterprise’. CCI also observed that the qualification of an entity as an enterprise was not required for examination of allegations under Section 3 of the Act.

CCI delineated the relevant market as ‘market for organization of TT leagues, events or tournaments in India’ based on the nature of the allegation, and the issues arising from such allegations. Based on an assessment of the pyramidal structure governing and regulating the sport of TT in India, CCI observed that all opposite parties, TSTTA, MSTTA and TTFI, were linked to each other and responsible for representing, coordinating, administering, marketing and developing the sport. Accordingly, CCI held that TSTTA, MSTTA and TTFI were dominant in the relevant market.

CCI concluded that the notice posted by the TSTTA’s general secretary prima facie contravened Section 4(2)(c) of the Act, as it might result in denial of market access to the Informant and other similar organisations. CCI also prima facie held that the TTFI’s MOA contravened provisions of: Sections 4(2)(a)(i) (being unfair and restrictive in nature); 4(2)(b)(i) (by limiting or restricting the provisions of services or their markets); and 4(2)(c) (by denying market access to players as well as organisers) of the Act.

CCI also held that TSTTA’s conduct prima facie seemed to limit or control provision of services appearing to contravene Section 3(1) read with Section 3(3)(b) of the Act.

Accordingly, under Section 26(1) of the Act, CCI directed the DG to undertake an investigation into the conduct of TSTTA, MSTTA and TTFI in terms of Sections 3(3) and 4 of the Act.

Order under Section 33 of the Act

The Informant also sought interim relief to direct: (i) the opposite parties (TSTTA, MSTTA and TTFI) to restrain acting in any manner that may adversely affect the Informant’s friendly TT events; and (ii) the TT players that they are at liberty to participate in the events organised by the Informant without the fear of consequences to be faced from the opposite parties.

On December 21, 2021, CCI passed an order under Section 33 of the Act granting an interim protection to the Informant and restrained TSTTA from issuing any communication restricting or dissuading players, clubs, coaches, from joining or participating in tournaments organised by associations, federations or confederations which are not purportedly ‘recognised’ by TSTTA. CCI also directed TSTTA not to threaten players interested in participating in tournaments organised by entities that are not recognized by it.


[1] TT Friendly Super League Association v. Suburban Table Tennis Association, Case No. 19 of 2021.




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