A few days prior to the much-awaited Global Citizen India concert, Bombay High Court on Wednesday announced that the concert would go as planned, but only after the state government secured an undertaking from the organizers.
This decision came in response to a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by activist Anjali Damania and businessman Hemant Gavande in the Bombay High Court challenging the government’s decision to waive the entertainment duty for the concert. The court ruled that they would be allowed to play the show, if the organizers submit an undertaking that they would pay entertainment tax as per the Bombay Entertainment Duty Act, 1923, if the court directed so.
This undertaking was sought after the petitioners claimed that the organisers were from Delhi and that there was no guarantee that they could pay.
The PIL had challenged the government’s right to waive off entertainment duty on the concert, as, according to the petitioners, the tickets were being sold at exorbitant prices, thus making the concert not fall under the category of a ‘charity’ event. It also questioned why the MMRDA was not charging rent from the organisers for the venue, which appeared first of its kind to petitioners.
Reportedly, the organizers have claimed that they will be using the money for philanthropic purposes.
“Our concern is that if you are selling tickets as well as generating sponsorship and selling telecast rights, there should be clarity on what is the quantum of funds generated, how much of it is going to charity, and how much tax has been paid. If money has been raised through sponsorship and ticket revenue, then why deny the state of its income by not paying the entertainment tax? We are saying let the event happen but pay your dues,” Damania said.
Reportedly, Rohit Deo, who appeared for the state government, submitted in court that the event was to create awareness among youngsters, and educate them, which was among the 17 goals of the United Nations. Out of the 80,000-odd tickets, 65,000 would be given free to those who have been contributing to the society, and only 11,000 would be sold with 4,000 for dignitaries, he added.