SPORTS & POLITICS: Ministers can be in sport cells, says govt – in for the penny, in for the pound – the Congress way of cleaning out corruption ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
Mumbai, June 22: The Centre today told Bombay High Court that the presence of Union cabinet members in sporting associations did not cause a conflict of interest.
The government added that no provision in the code of conduct barred the ministers from holding any position in sports organisations.
The submission came during the hearing of a public interest litigation filed by the Shiv Sena that questioned the entertainment tax exemption given to the IPL.
The petition had alleged that the exemption was given to the cash-rich T20 tournament because of the political clout of NCP chief and Union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar.
During earlier hearings in April and May, the high court had allowed the petitioner to make Pawar a party.
Without naming Pawar, the petition had asked if the presence of a sitting Union minister in a profit-making sporting body caused any conflict of interest.
“Would it be moral…Would a conflict of interest arise if a minister is a head of a sport association?” the judges had asked.
The court then asked the Centre to clarify whether its code of conduct allowed a Union cabinet member to hold a position in a profit-making sporting body.
The additional solicitor-general, Darius Khambatta, told the court that the code of conduct for Union cabinet ministers had no provision which prevented them from being part of sporting bodies. The court asked Khambatta to file a detailed reply.
The state informed the court that the Congress-NCP government had already taken a decision to impose entertainment tax on the IPL as well as one-day internationals, satisfying the main plea in the Sena petition.
On June 14, the government had issued a resolution implementing the decision to levy entertainment duty on the IPL and one-day matches played in Maharashtra.
However, Shiv Sena’s counsel Balkrishna Joshi pointed out that the government resolution was silent on its retrospective effect. He raised questions on the recovery of the revenue losses caused during the IPL’s first two seasons.
The BCCI as well as the state government asked for more time to file replies. The court adjourned the hearing to August 9.