The Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected pleas of the Mumbai Cricket Association and the Maharashtra Cricket Association against the Bombay high court's order to shift the Indian Premier League matches out of drought-hit Maharashtra.
A bench headed by Chief Justice T S Thakur was initially inclined to allow the matches in Maharashtra with some strict conditions like the stadium authorities will not be permitted to use 'even a drop of potable water' for their matches.
However, the bench also comprising Justices R Banumathi and U U Lalit dismissed the petition and said that let the matches be shifted out of the state.
At the outset, senior advocate P Chidambaram and A M Singhvi, appearing for the state cricket bodies, sought a stay on the Bombay high court order, saying that they will not be using potable water for any cricketing activity in the stadiums in Mumbai and Pune and would only use treated sewage water.
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The bench, during the hearing, sought response from the lawyers about the claim that 60 lakh litres of water would be required for maintenance of the grounds on the eve of IPL matches which were scheduled to be played in the state.
Chidambaram referred to certain letters and said that the stadiums would be needing 10,000 litres a day for six days and potable water will not be used.
He refuted the claim that 60 lakh litres of water would be required and said that at best, 60,000 litres of treated water would be used for watering the grounds which would be brought in tankers.
Considering the submissions, the bench said, "We will direct the civic bodies to disconnect the drinking water to the establishment and not a drop of potable water will be used. We will appoint a judicial officer who, with the help of police, will ensure that drinking water is not used."
The court later dismissed the plea after having noted it would be better to shift the matches out rather than to create a situation where all kinds of regulations would be needed.
The dismissal of the petition will lead to shifting of nine matches which were to be played at the homegrounds of IPL franchises -- Mumbai Indians and Rising Pune Supergiants, including the final in Mumbai on May 29 and the Eliminator and Qualifier 2 match in Pune on May 25 and May 27 respectively. The Bombay high court had last week allowed the May 1 match between Mumbai Indians and Rising Pune Supergiants in Pune to be staged, as the BCCI had said it would not be able to make arrangements to shift the match to another venue in a single day.
According to the application, the Pune team was scheduled to play Gujarat Lions on April 29 in Pune, and, hence, it was 'practically impossible' for the BCCI and the Pune franchise to shift the May 1 match to an another venue outside Maharashtra and 'make all arrangements for the same in just a single day'.
The Bombay high court had on April 13 ordered shifting of all IPL matches scheduled in Maharashtra after April 30 to another state in view of the severe drought in the state. Kings XI Punjab, who were scheduled to play three of their home games in Nagpur in May had accepted the high court decision to shift their matches out of the state.
The two state cricket bodies of Mumbai and Maharashtra had moved the apex court on April 22 against the Bombay high court verdict and had claimed in their plea that instead of potable water, treated sewage water would be used for cricket pitches.
As per the high court's order, the matches, including the final in Mumbai scheduled for May 29, cannot be held in Maharashtra.
The high court's direction had come even as the Board of Control for Cricket in India had given an assurance that IPL franchises of Mumbai and Pune had agreed to contribute Rs five crore to Chief Minister's drought relief fund.
The high court order had come on a Public-Interest Litigation (PIL) by NGO 'Loksatta Movement' which had challenged the alleged use of over 60 lakh litres of water for ground management despite drought in the state and had sought that all matches be shifted out of Maharashtra.