Indian F1 Grand Prix in Doubt after Organisers Taken to Court

October 24, 2013

The Indian Grand Prix may be in doubt after an Indian Supreme Court agreed on Thursday to hear a petition seeking the cancellation of this weekend’s race because organisers have allegedly not paid entertainment taxes for the 2012 event.

India’s Supreme Court has executive powers and ordered organisers two years ago to freeze 25 percent of ticket revenues until they had settled a tax dispute with the state where the racetrack is located.

“We will hear the petition tomorrow,” Chief Justice P. Sathasivam said in court, announcing a new legal snag for Formula One in India.

That ruling came in response to a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by campaigner Amit Kumar, who is also behind Thursday’s petition seeking the cancellation of the race on Sunday.

Kumar successfully argued in 2011 that Formula One was entertainment, not sport, and should not benefit from tax exemptions granted by the state of Uttar Pradesh, which borders the capital New Delhi.

Entertainment tax, applicable for large-scale shows and sponsored festivals, has been levied on tickets this year.

India is already not on the 2014 schedule for “logistical” reasons but were expected to return in 2015.

The event itself has been plagued with poor attendances with Jaypee, the race organiser, revealing only last week that they had sold only 20,000 tickets for the coming event.

Sauber F1 Team Principal has even suggested they have been missed an opportunity as they have failed to entice the local crowd.

“We have missed an opportunity,” Sauber team boss Monisha Kaltenborn, an Austrian who was born in Dehradun, is quoted as saying.

“We have not been able to sell F1 well enough in these parts,” she admitted.

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