Bombay High Court has accepted to hear a PIL seeking to penalise BCCI for holding IPL 2021 amidst a raging COVID-19 pandemic in India. The plea had sought a direction to the BCCI to cancel or postpone the ongoing Indian Premier League (IPL) matches in view of the surge in COVID-19 cases in the country. But as the cases mounted BCCI has put the IPL on hold for now.
Advocate Vandana Shah, in her plea mentioned before the HC on Tuesday, asked whether the IPL is an essential service. She also sought a direction to the BCCI to pay Rs 1,000 crore as “damages” and make donations from their profit to hospitals treating COVID-19 patients.
She said it would not be right to continue holding the matches at this time, and requested a division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice G S Kulkarni to hear her plea on an urgent basis.
Shah told the court that a bio-bubble of IPL players has also been breached and two players from the Kolkata Knight Riders team and few other non-playing members have tested positive for the coronavirus.
“Due to this, the match scheduled to be held on Monday night was cancelled. Now, the plan is to shift all IPL matches that are to be played till May 30 to the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai and the D Y Patil stadium in Navi Mumbai. Maharashtra already has a high number of COVID-19 cases,” Shah told the court.
The bench, while noting that the court was only concerned with the matches being held in Mumbai, said it would hear the petition on May 6.
Shah further told the court that resources being deployed for the IPL matches should be used for COVID-19 patients.
“Is IPL an essential service? I am also seeking a direction to the Board for Control of Cricket in India (BCCI) to pay Rs 1,000 crore as damages and also make donations from their profit to hospitals treating COVID-19 patients,” Shah said.
The final leg of the tournament (knockouts and final match) was to be held in Ahmedabad. In the petition, Shah said the BCCI should be held responsible for conducting a tournament in such sensitive times.
The petition said even though the IPL players and staff are in the bio-bubble, the possibility of getting infected by coronavirus cannot be ruled out and in such a situation, the spread would be higher as players do not follow the social distancing norms.