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The Bombay High Court Monday pulled up the Maharashtra government for failing to levy entertainment duty on the Indian Premier League cricket tournament and asked whether any decision has been taken on it.

A division of Justices P.B. Majumdar and Justice R.G. Ketkar directed the state government to clarify its stand whether it has decided to levy the duty or not and file an affidavit before May 5.

The judges also wanted to know from the state government whether there was any code of conduct for the chief minister or any other minister who is taking part in the activities of various sports bodies like the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).

During the hearing, the judges sought to know from the state whether any ‘conflict of interest arises’ if a minister also holds a post in a sports organisation. The reference could have been to union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar though the court did not take his name.

The direction to file the affidavit was given in response to a public interest litigation (PIL) of senior Shiv Sena legislator Subhash Desai, who alleged that the government, in a cabinet meeting January, decided to levy tax on the IPL but the decision was not implemented.

Government counsel D. Nalavade submitted that duties on all sport activities were waived off by the state in May 1964.

‘However, the state government intends to withdraw the exemption because these are not just sport activities,’ Nalavade said, adding there was a need for a policy to levy duty for all sports events where ‘entertainment was a primary’ element.

Last week, the Comptroller & Auditor General (CAG), in a report, said the state government had sustained a loss of Rs.4.99 crore on account of its failure to levy entertainment duty on the first IPL tourney held in April 2008.

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