Nearly 40,000 fans had cause to cheer and harried officials of the State cricket association could heave a sigh of relief, as the superior courts intervened to save the IPL season’s last cricket match in Chennai on Tuesday.
A double blow from regulatory authorities in the run-up to the Tuesday’s match threatened to stall the last home game of Chennai Super Kings against Delhi Daredevils, but the TNCA managed to get respite from the Supreme Court and Madras High Court in the course of the day.
A few days ago, the Chennai Corporation sealed three stands in the M A Chidambaram Stadium on the ground that they did not have the required approvals. And on Monday, the State Public Works Department cancelled the stadium’s Structural Soundness Certificate (SSC), citing apparent discrepancies between details in the application and the nomenclature given to the stands in the approved plans.
In the forenoon, the Supreme Court permitted the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association (TNCA) to use three stands – I, J and K – which had been sealed a couple of days ago by the Corporation in a move that would have affected 11,000 spectators.
In Chennai, a Vacation Bench, comprising Justice M. Venugopal and Justice N. Kirubakaran, stayed for four weeks the PWD order cancelling the SSC.
In its order, the Supreme Court said the three stands be permitted to be used for the match played on Tuesday. “… these three stands shall not be used in future without the permission of the statutory authorities or this Court in any circumstance,” the Bench made it clear.
Amit Sibal, counsel for the TNCA, contended that tickets had been sold for the three sealed stands, and it would be difficult to accommodate spectators in these three stands elsewhere in the stadium.
He also drew the court’s attention to the cancellation of the structural soundness certificate, terming it ‘mala fide’. Also, the police had issued a show cause notice to the organisers.
V. Giri, senior counsel for the Corporation, said the three stands, constructed without any approval, were not in use since August 2011, but Justice B. S. Chauhan, who heard the matter along with Justice Dipak Misra, wanted to know how seven IPL matches were allowed to be held.
Counsel replied that they were permitted on the basis of interim orders, but the sealing was done on May 12 after the Supreme Court stayed an earlier Madras High Court verdict in favour of the TNCA.
Mr. Justice Chauhan also wondered why the Corporation allowed the TNCA to proceed with the construction and why there was a six month-delay in inspection. “Are you powerless? State authorities had not been careful; otherwise, you could have sealed the stadium. You are sympathetic and your sympathy has changed now,” he said.
Mr. Giri said, “Our sympathy hasn’t changed, the law is being enforced as the stands had been completed without permission.”