A Division Bench of the Kerala High Court on Tuesday adjourned to April 26 a petition filed by the Kochi-Muziris Biennale Foundation for vacating the court’s order restraining the government from disbursing funds to the foundation until further orders.
The Bench comprising Justice T.R. Ramachandran Nair and Justice A.V. Ramakrishna Pillai also directed Riyas Komu, secretary of the foundation, to file an affidavit detailing the income and expenditure incurred for the event.
According to Mr. Komu, if the biennale had not been granted additional financial assistance, the foundation would have suffered untold losses.
The foundation had many financial obligations including bearing expenses for shipment of foreign installations back to its source country, payment for vendors and other creditors, payment for artists who performed and set up installations during the event.
When the case came up for hearing, the State government submitted that it had dropped the vigilance probe ordered into the alleged irregularities in the affairs of the foundation in view of the positive impact the event would have on the State.
In fact, a committee headed by the Additional Chief Secretary, Cultural Affairs, had been constituted to assess the expenditure and determine the remaining funds to be granted. The foundation told the government that it had incurred an expenditure of Rs.12.58 crore till date and had projected immediate additional expenses of Rs.2.30 crore. The State government had also submitted that it had provided all support to the foundation as it was of the view that the event would serve the larger interests of the State.
The objective of the event was to establish Kerala as a new centre for contemporary art in the country from the cultural point of view as well as “to attract more tourists to the State as a desirable and exotic destination,” the government submitted
The interim stay order had come on a public interest writ petition filed by G. Ajith Kumar, secretary, Lantern Fine Arts Society.
The petitioner sought to restrain the State government from providing additional financial assistance to the foundation.
He said the government decision to provide additional funds to the foundation went against its submissions before the High Court.
The State government had earlier submitted that it did not propose to grant additional financial assistance to the foundation.
Keywords: Kochi-Muziris Biennale