What is the legal position regarding injuries and even death in sport accidents?

The Criminal Court of Vigo, Spain, sent a football-player to jail for four months and fined him Euro1,210 for something he did during a game. It was not for match-fixing or doping. It was for playing rough football. But then, isn’t football a rough and tough game?
In this case, we have told you the answer before asking, ‘you be the judge’. There is more to come when a judgement sets a precedent; Spanish law demands punishment for the “intention of undermining the physical integrity of the competitor.” This opens a Pandora’s Box.
Some sports are dangerous; others hazardous. In this case, the opponent was sent crashing, after a tackle, into an advertising hoarding’s steel pole. The result was a skull injury and an open wound. Money makes the mare go, even in human sports; and the more the money, greater the passion to win. This, often, leads to injury; even death. Motor sports, two- and four-wheeled, skiing, cycling, even cricket, all have their share of fatalities. Boxing is a pure contact sport where injury to the opponent is the intent from the first bell. So is the case in American football. Rugby is no less violent. In fact, formal wrestling looks decidedly a ‘sissy’ event.
The question that now agitates the mind is: ‘Where does one draw the line?’
Tackles in football are part of the game. If illegal, the player is penalised in varying degrees. But some moves are legitimate. The referee does not rule them as foul. What happens when, in such a situation, a rival player injures himself? ‘Fair’ on the field, but ‘Foul’ in a court of law? Rubber pucks put more stitches on ice-hockey-players than maybe all other sports combined. The rink is a dangerous playing field. Ask Wayne Gretsky or the goalies. Is a puck a lethal weapon?
Muhammad Ali, the ‘Greatest’, is said to be a victim of Parkinson’s disease. He started his career as an Olympic champ, named Cassius Clay. Over the years, he fought many fights and regained his crown often. His condition is attributed to the many head injuries he must have received over the years. Does that make all his opponents criminally liable? Unless, of course, one can prove that he never landed a blow to Ali’s head!
The situation is now more fraught, with the advent of performance-enhancing drugs. Doping, in short. Cycling and Lance Armstrong, and 11 others, who followed him, come to mind. A drug cheat, sportsman or hanger-on, is criminally liable for transporting and administering. Jail sentences can follow in some countries where such substances are banned. This raises a not very hypothetical question.
Cyclists have been into drugs since the 1950s. Being personally involved, one can vouchsafe to its being a tough sport. Maybe, even the toughest. It’s no joke to spend six or seven hours, at average speeds of 40kmph on a tiny saddle, balancing oneself on two narrow wheels. And there are no time-outs or drinks breaks. How many other sports drain two to three kilos in a day? But does that justify the cocktails that are pumped into the system?
The law disallows it and punishment is severe. Yet, another aspect needs be explored. Consider this. A cyclist is on drugs. Drugs kill pain but impair reaction time. With slow reflexes, in a racing bunch of up to 150 cyclists, often going downhill in the mountains at close to 100km an hour, wheels can touch. A ‘clean’ cyclist goes over the side. And dies. (Such accidents are common occurrence with riders fished out of ravines, these days by helicopters.)
An innocent cycle accident? Occupational hazard? Manslaughter, not amounting to murder? Negligence? Riding under influence (RUI, not DUI)? Or just plain murder?

Bapoo Malcolm is a practising lawyer in Mumbai. Please email your comments to [email protected] or [email protected]


ORG accuses trademark violation in TimesNow exit poll

The social media was abuzz on Tuesday following reports of trademark violation in the TimesNow-ORG exit polls. In fact, the name 'ORG' used in this survey belongs to and is trademark of Operations Research Group (ORG) Pvt Ltd. On the other hand, the Times of India group channel clarified that ORG mentioned in its exit polls stands for Operations Research Guild owned by one Amit Roy, a former employee of ORG.


Debasish Banerjee, managing director of ORG, that owns the trademark was quoted as saying in a communication by TheNewsMinute.com that, “We have faced similar problems earlier from one of our ex employees named Amit Roy who has a company in the name of Operations Research Guild registered in Gujarat so that this outfit can present itself as ORG to exploit the Brand name. May we request you not to present this outfit as ORG but by its full name.”


Several people accused the news channel of rigging the exit polls and misleading viewers. Rajdeep Sardesai, editor-in-chief of CNN IBN, and Rahul Kanwal of Headlines Today were vocal on Twitter.


This allegation came after Times now channel conducted the Times Now-ORG exit polls related to the result of the Lok Sabha elections on 12th May. The Times Now-ORG poll suggested that the NDA would win 249 to 265 seats, which would leave it a little short of a majority though well within striking distance.


Amit Roy, who is one of the founding directors of ORG, branched out in 1994 and formed his own company called Operations Research Guild India Pvt Ltd (ORG India). Roy was quoted by TheNewsMinute.com as stating, “I am still a shareholder and one of the founder directors of ORG. But ORG India is my own company. I did the exit polls for News Nation, who then shared content with Times Now.”


Amit Roy says he has been doing exit polls since 1995, but this is the first time his company ORG India was doing an exit poll. He also expressed surprise over the comments made by other media honchos calling the poll fake, ”Some newspapers may have published the name as ORG, that is not anyone’s fault. Maybe there were mentions made by the channel and some panelists calling it ORG, but that again is not ORG India's fault. Calling the poll bogus or fake... those are very strong words to use. I don’t know if these people are using the word fake deliberately. Informed people are not used to using strong language. The same acronym two companies share does not make the poll fake.”


Sensex, Nifty peaked for now?: Tuesday closing report

Nifty may find it hard to cross Tuesday's top easily

Tuesday was the third day of major gain on the indices, following the exit polls that predicted the high possibility of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) forming the next government at the Centre.

Today the indices began well in the positive and were on an uptrend till the beginning of the noon session. However, from around 11.53am the benchmark indices started giving up gains to reach almost up to the day’s low after which they started trending sideways.

The BSE30-share Sensex opened at 23,730 and moved in the range of 23,729 and 24,069 and closed at 23,871 (up 320 points or 1.36%). The NSE 50-share Nifty opened at 7,080 and moved between 7,067 and 7,172 and closed at 7,109 (up 95 points or 1.35%). The NSE recorded a huge volume of 129.36 crore shares. India VIX closed lower at 32.0475 (fell 13.63%).

Except for Pharma (0.85%) all the other indices on the NSE closed in the green. The top five gainers were P S E (2.97%), Realty (2.82%), Energy (2.81%), C P S E (2.78%) and Nifty Midcap 50 (2.76%).

Of the 50 stocks on the Nifty, 39 ended in the green. The top five gainers were Bhel (10.37%), Hero MotoCorp (6.02%), Ambuja Cements (4.89%), Bank of Baroda (4.54%) and DLF (4.24%). The top five losers were PNB (4.77%), Dr Reddy (4.39%), Cairn (1.25%), Hindalco (1.12%) and HDFC Bank (0.76%).

Of the 1,586 companies on the NSE, 948 companies closed in the green, 536 companies closed in the red while 102 companies closed flat.

BHEL (up 10.25%) was the top gainer in the Sensex 30 pack while among the top three gainer in the ‘A’ group on the BSE. The Cabinet is likely to ratify the decision to sell 4.66% stake in the power equipment maker through a block deal. The proposal for post-facto approval for BHEL disinvestment is on the agenda of meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs. The Finance Ministry in March 2014 had sold 4.66% stake in BHEL to Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) for about Rs1,889 crore. LIC purchased 11.41 crore shares in BHEL at a price of Rs 165.55 per share through a block deal on the BSE. Following the block deal, the government stake in BHEL came down to 63.06%, from 67.72%. The Empowered Group of Ministers, headed by Finance Minister P Chidambaram, had in February 2014 decided on the timing and mode of disinvestment in Bhel. However, the CCEA approval was pending for the stake sale.

Weak consolidated net profit was posted by Dr Reddys Lab. It was the top loser (3.99%) in Sensex 30 stock.

The possibility of the Narendra Modi forming the next government has put the Adani group stocks back in focus. The Adani Group stocks were in the top 10 gainers in the ‘A’ group on the BSE. Adani Enterprises (up 11.06%), Adani Ports (up 9.47%), Adani Power (up 7.64%).

Torrent Power which was the top gainer in the ‘A’ group on the BSE on Monday has turned out to be the top loser in the group today (fell 7.35%). The company has announced it is plans a re-organisation of power sector operations of Torrent Group. A composite scheme of amalgamation between Torrent Energy, a wholly owned subsidiary of Torrent Power, and Torrent Cables with Torrent Power was recommended by the Audit Committee and approved by the board of directors of the company.

IOC increased the Price of Diesel (Retail) by Rs1.09 per litre (excluding state levies) from midnight of 12 May 2014-13 May 2014.

Inflation based on the combined consumer price index for urban and rural India accelerated to 8.59% (provisional) in April 2014, from 8.31% (final) in March 2014, data released by the government after trading hours on Monday, 12 May 2014, showed.
Another data released by the government after trading hours on Monday, 12 May 2014, showed that industrial production shrank for a second straight month in March 2014.
Industrial production declined 0.5% in March 2014, compared with a contraction of 1.8% in February 2014. For the year ended 31 March 2014 (FY 2014), the industrial production registered a contraction of 0.1%. The fall in February's output was revised to 1.8% from 1.9% reported earlier.

US indices closed in the positive on Monday. The US government recorded a budget surplus of $107 billion in April, the Treasury Department reported Monday, a smaller windfall than in the same month last year. The April surplus contributes to a steady decline in the deficit for fiscal 2014. Shrinking US deficit could help keep interest rates low.

Except for Shanghai Composite (0.10%) all the other Asian indices trading today closed in the green. Nikkei 225 (1.95%) was the top gainer.

China's factory production expanded 8.7% last month, the National Bureau of Statistics said on Tuesday. Retail sales rose 11.9% in April. Fixed-asset investment for the first four months of this calendar year climbed 17.3%, the latest data showed.

European indices were trading in the green while US Futures were trading marginally higher.


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