Businessman Hemant Gavande and activist Anjali Damania on Wednesday filed a public interest litigation in the Bombay high court (HC) challenging the state government’s decision to grant entertainment duty exemption to the performance of British rock band Coldplay at the Bandra-Kurla Complex (BKC) grounds on November 19.
Advocate Uday Warunjikar mentioned the PIL for urgent hearing before the bench of chief justice Manjula Chellur and justice MS Sonak, which has posted it for hearing on Thursday.
According to the petitioners, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had in September 2014 attended a similar performance – organised by Global Citizen at the Central Park in New York – after which the tourism department mooted a proposal for the event at BKC. In August 2016, the proposal was discussed at a meeting chaired by the chief minister, states the PIL.
The petitioners have challenged the validity of the decision primarily on grounds that exemption from payment of entertainment duty under the Bombay Entertainment Duty Act, 1923 can be given only for shows or programmes organized for charitable or educational purposes. They have cited the example of a show for Michael Jackson organised by Wizcraft in 1996, stating in that case the high court had ordered the organisers to deposit the entertainment duty in court.
The petitioners said the decision to exempt the November 19 show from entertainment duty was not announced in a government resolution or in public domain. The PIL said no replies have been given to the RTI applications seeking information on the event.
The PIL states the ground can accommodate 1.5 lakh people and if the price of tickets, which start at Rs25,000, are taken into consideration, the event will generate revenue in crores and the entertainment duty – 45 % of the collection - will also be in crores.