The Global Citizen Festival India that will see Coldplay performing in India for the first time will be organised as per the schedule. The Bombay High Court today refused to stay the event scheduled to take place on Saturday, the 19th. The court, however, added that the Maharashtra government should take an undertaking from the event organiser that it would be willing to pay the waived entertainment duty if the court directs so in future.
Activists Anjali Damania and Hemant Gavande had filed a public interest litigation (PIL) challenging the decision of the government to waive off the entertainment duty for the event. A bench of Chief Justice Manjula Chellur and Justice MS Sonak heard the petition.
To be held at the MMRDA grounds in suburban Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC), the petitioners had challenged government’s decision. They had said that under the Bombay Entertainment Duty Act-1923, entertainment duty can be waived off only when shows are organised for charitable or educational purposes.
Acting Advocate General Rohit Deo today submitted to the court that the event was not just a rock show.
Deo said that the programme will run for eight hours and Coldplay is just one part of it. He added that the event aims to create awareness about three subjects gender equality, education and clean water. He pointed out that these three are a part of 17 sustainable goals of the United Nations.
The advocate also highlighted that out of the 80,000 tickets, 65,000 will be given free of cost to people who have shown their contribution in these subjects. From the rst 15,000 left, the organiser will sell 11,000 to meet the expenditure. The rest 4,000 have been kept for dignitaries. He said several industrialists and political leaders are expected to come to the event.
After hearing arguments of both the sides, the court said it cannot accept the contentions of the petitioners at this stage and hence, was not inclined to stay the concert.
"However, in the interest of justice we cannot throw away this petition. As a precautionary measure, the state government is directed to take an undertaking from the organiser that in future if the petition succeeds, then they (organiser) would pay the necessary entertainment duty," Chief Justice Chellur directed.
The petitioners' lawyer, Uday Warunjikar, argued that the organisers are from Delhi and, hence, there cannot be any guarantee that in future they will pay the entertainment duty.
Warunjikar cited the example of a show for Michael Jackson organised by a company in 1996, stating in that case the High Court had later ordered the organisers to deposit the entertainment duty in court.
To this, the court said, "If you look at everything with tainted glasses then everything will appear yellow. We cannot suspect and doubt everything and every action of the state government."
The petition also challenged the MMRDA's decision to grant 75 percent concession on rentals, which amounts to almost Rs 6 crore.
The court then said it cannot interfere in this decision as it is the MMRDA's discretion how much rent to levy.
(With PTI Inputs)