The King of Pop had enthralled his fans in the city at the Andheri Sports Complex on October 30, 1996. Now, 15 years later, the Bombay high court will review a section of the Entertainment Duty Act to find out why Michael Jackson’s concert was exempted from entertainment duty.
On Tuesday, a division bench of justice DK Deshmukh and justice KK Tated issued a notice to the advocate general of Maharashtra seeking his assistance on review of section 6(3) of the Entertainment Duty Act, which gives power to the state government to exempt duty to public charitable trusts.
“This section gives blanket… power to the government to give exemption to any concert and it can be misused,” said justice Deshmukh.
The high court was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by the Mumbai Grahak Panchayat in 1996, challenging the 100% exemption granted to the concert.
According to the petition filed in the court, if the state government had not waived the duty on the concert, which was termed “a classical show”, the state exchequer would have been richer by at least Rs11.60 crore.
The concert was organised by Sena Udyog Samiti, an outfit floated by then Shiv Sena leader Raj Thackeray. The Sena was also the ruling government.
A day before the concert was to be held, the high court had ordered that the donation to be given by Wizcraft, an event management company, to the Sena Udyog Samiti be frozen.
Also, the state government was directed to explain the exemption and the loss to the exchequer.
Uday Warunjikar, advocate for the petitioner, pointed out that the contract between Wizcraft and Sena Udyog Samiti was signed on October 15, 1996, while the Samiti was registered as a public trust on October 24, 1996.
“They [Sena Udyog Samiti] misrepresented before the government that they are charitable trust,” argued Warunjikar. The matter will now come up for hearing on March 7.