The Maharashtra Cabinet on Wednesday approved the reinstatement of entertainment tax waiver of Rs 3.36 crore given to Michael Jackson musical event held in 1996. The amount was deposited in the Bombay High Court following its ruling but with Wednesday’s decision, it will be withdrawn and paid to Wizcraft Entertainment Agency which had organised the musical event organised for the then Shiv Udyog Sena (SUS) chief Raj Thackeray, who now heads the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena.
A release issued by the Chief Minister’s Office said, “As per the provisions of Section 6 (3) of the Maharashtra Entertainment Charges Act, the government has the right to exempt any entertainment programme from levying entertainment tax. Accordingly, the Cabinet has approved waiver in entertainment tax and surcharges for the musical event Michael Jackson under the pop show category organised by the Wizcraft Entertainment Agency on November 1 , 1996.’’
"The then Sena-led government had taken the decision to waive off the entertainment tax on the basis of existing rules. The same has been upheld now," cabinet minister Subhash Desai said.
The Mumbai Grahak Panchayat had challenged the then Shiv Sena-BJP alliance government to provide waiver in the entertainment tax. However, the high court in April 2011 had rapped the then government for “non-application of mind” while setting aside the order regarding the exemption.
Thereafter the high court had asked the state government to reconsider Wizcraft’s application for grant of exemption from payment of the entertainment duty in accordance with law and also hear the Mumbai Grahak Panchayat’s plea.