Mumbai: The Bombay High Court, in an interim order, today directed the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to grant permission for the Mumbai Marathon, if the organisers paid a portion of the fees demanded by the civic body by Monday.
The event is scheduled to be held on January 21.
A bench led by Justice AS Oka also directed the BMC to consider the request of the organiser, Procam International, that it be allowed to put up stalls to serve water, energy drinks etc. to the participants.
Procam had approached the high court in September last year, alleging that the BMC was demanding an exorbitant fee for the marathon.
As an interim relief, it had sought that the court direct the BMC not to withhold any permission and to grant the approval for the event, citing the pending dues, until the conclusion of the plea.
The petitioners have sought permission from the BMC to hold the day-long event and put up advertisements and hoardings across the city from January 15-21.
Procam claimed that while last year, it had paid about Rs 26 lakh to the BMC for a similar event, this year, the civic body asked it to pay Rs 3.66 crore towards the “land fees, displaying advertisements and hoardings, and security deposit”.
“While we want the permission for just seven days, the BMC is charging us for the entire month. We are merely trying to organise sports events for the public but the BMC is saying that it has a share in our revenues,” the petitioner argued.
BMC counsel Ram Apte contended that it was a routine practice for the civic body to charge for the entire month, irrespective of the duration of such events.
“We have agreed to grant them permission for the event and advertisements and hoardings, subject to the condition that they pay us all the fees. The fee amount has been decided upon as per our valid rules and proper resolutions have been passed by the civic body for the same,” he told the court.
“It is like the railway pass issued to the commuters of the suburban rail network in the city. Even if one travels for just 10 days a month, the pass charges one for a minimum duration of an entire month.
“This is not a mere sports event, it has become a full fledged commercial activity. The organisers do not want any transparency,” Apte claimed.
The bench however, directed that as an interim measure, the BMC must grant permission for the event if Procam paid Rs 1.05 crore — Rs 79 lakh towards the rent of the land and Rs 26 lakh as security deposit — by Monday (January 15).
The court also directed the BMC to submit the copies of resolutions it had passed for granting permission, charging fees etc. for the event.