The Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Stadium in Worli, venue of the controversial All-India Bakchod (AIB) Knockout event has run into fresh trouble. A week after the state Department of Culture issued a notice to the National Sports Club of India (NSCI), asking whether a censor certificate had been sought to stage the event, Mumbai secretary of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has alleged that NSCI violated lease conditions by permitting a commercial event that caused public nuisance and sought cancellation of the lease by the municipal commissioner.
The recreation ground on which the stadium is situated was given to the NSCI on lease by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC). The lease deed is dated May 11, 1993, said the letter.
The expletive-laced show ran into trouble when several organisations filed FIRs against the alleged obscene nature of the content along with censor board member Ashoke Pandit coming out heavily against it.
Terming the event an “offensive programme” in his letter to Municipal Commissioner Sitaram Kunte, Mumbai BJP secretary Vivekanand Gupta said, “The NSCI, by granting permission to AIB to hold such offensive programme, has caused nuisance to public at large. By allowing the AIB programme, which is definitely a commercial activity, the NSCI has violated the lease deed condition. They must have charged heavy fees from the organisers of AIB and earned profit on a land which belongs to the BMC. Hence, I request you to take immediate steps to cancel the lease deed and take over the ground from the NSCI and open it to public.”
The ‘roast’ is a genre of ‘insult comedy’ broadcast online or live performances. The AIB Knockout’s live show and its recording on YouTube had the social media abuzz with the roast of Bollywood actors Arjun Kapoor and Ranveer Singh. Karan Johar was the ‘roast master’ of the show in front of a crowd of 4,000.
The letter cites clause 19 of the lease agreement, which states that “the said premises or any part thereof or permit the same to be used for any business, trade, occupation or purposes whatsoever other than as aforesaid without the consent in writing of the Commissioner” as well as the phrase “And not to do or suffer to be done on the said premises anything which may be or become nuisance injuries or offensive to the Corporation or the owners or occupiers of this or any other property in the neighbourhood”.
Gupta further alleged FSI and CRZ violations by the NSCI. “I have reasons to believe that there are FSI and CRZ violations by NSCI and hence I request you to appoint an expert committee to look into the violations, submit a report in a time-bound manner and thereafter the BMC should take necessary actions as per law for violations,” his letter stated.
Meanwhile, NSCI officials said they had permission to hold non-sporting events on their property and had been providing their premises for weddings and conferences. “We do not organise events, we just provide the venue to the organisers who have all the necessary permissions. We also permit marriage functions, or else how will the stadium generate revenue? We give 33 per cent of our revenue to the civic body,” said an NSCI official, who did not wish to be named. Commenting on the allegations and the controversy, he said, “This controversy is a political gimmick and highlights the government’s hypocrisy. First, you give permission to hold the event and then ask how was it conducted? The event manager Only Much Louder (OML) had the necessary permission. Problem began when they uploaded it on YouTube and suddenly politicians took offence.”
Civic officials from the estate department said they had not received any complaint. “There is nothing about the termination or cancellation of leave. There is no such complaint or proposal. The ground has been leased out for sports activities, but there are different provisions in the lease conditions for different activities. Right now, I don’t have the copy to pronounce the different lease conditions, but they have permission to conduct functions,” said Vishwas Shankarwar, head of BMC’s estate department.