Coldplay concert: Organisers will have to pay entertainment tax, says HC

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The Bombay high court on Thursday directed the state government to secure an undertaking from organisers of Global Citizens India Festival to pay entertainment tax under provisions of the Bombay Entertainment Duty Act. The court, however, refused to stay the programme scheduled to be held at the Bandra-Kurla Complex grounds in Mumbai on November 19.

Earlier, businessman Hemant Gavande and activist Anjali Damania had on Wednesday filed a public interest litigation (PIL)  in the HC, challenging the state government’s decision to grant tax exemption to the performance of British rock band Coldplay.

Advocate Uday Warunjikar mentioned the PIL for urgent hearing before the bench of chief justice Manjula Chellur and justice MS Sonak, who have 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 chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, according to the PIL.

The petitioners have challenged the validity of the decision primarily on grounds that the tax exemption can be given only for shows or programmes organised for charitable or educational purposes. They have cited the example of a show for Michael Jackson organised by Wizcraft in 1996, wherein the high court had ordered the organisers to deposit the entertainment duty in the 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 says 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 huge.