- Apprentice Lawyer
The Maharashtra State cabinet re-affirmed the waiver of payment of entertainment duty granted to the event management company - Wizcraft Entertainment Agency - the organisers of the 1996 Mumbai concert of pop star, late Michael Jackson.
Wizcraft was appointed as promoter for Jackson’s History Tours of 1996 in India. Jackson had purportedly agreed to perform the shows in aid and benefit of the charity organisation - Shiv Udyog Sena.
Wizcraft had accordingly received an exemption from levy of Entertainment Tax duty and Surcharge from the State Ministry of Cultural Affairs as the concert was being conducted in aid of charity.
However, the exemption order was challenged before the Bombay High Court by Mumbai Grahak Panchayat, a consumer organisation on the grounds that it was arbitrary and would cause high financial loss to the government.
They claimed that the Ministry failed to enquire into the charitable purpose that is being served by the charity organisation before passing the order.
The petitioners further contended that the power of the government to grant exemption under Section 6 of the Maharashtra Entertainments Duty Act was used by the government which at that time was controlled by Shiv Sena for the benefit of its own organisation Shiv Udyog Sena.
A Division Bench of Justices DK Deshmukh and AV Mehta set aside the government order in 2011 due to non-application of mind by the government.
“We, thus, find that the order of the State Government is liable to be set aside for non-application of mind to relevant aspects of the matter and considering the matters which are not exactly relevant for the purpose,” the Bench held.
They directed the government to re-consider the application of Wizcraft for grant of exemption from payment of entertainment duty.
The Cabinet's present ruling follows the High Court order, reconsidering and re-affirming the waiver.
Following the Cabinet’s decision, Wizcraft will be able to take back approximately over Rs. 3 crores rupees which was deposited with the High Court to secure the amount of entertainment duty which the State government will be entitled to receive in case it is held Wizcraft is not entitled for grant of exemption from payment of entertainment duty.
[Read High Court order of 2011]