Supreme court hears bid to cancel Indian Grand Prix


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The Independent Online

This weekend's Indian Grand Prix has been cast into doubt after a petition seeking the cancellation of the race was reportedly lodged with India's Supreme Court.

The petition, which will be heard on Friday, has been brought amid allegations that race organisers Jaypee Sports International Limited did not pay entertainment taxes due on last year's event, the Times of India reports.

"We will hear the petition tomorrow," Supreme Court Chief Justice P Sathasivam said in quotes reported by the newspaper.

Campaigner Amit Kumar, who in 2011 successfully argued in court that the Indian GP should be regarded as a form of entertainment and not sport and therefore should not be granted tax exemptions, is reported to be behind this latest petition.

Neither Jaypee Sports International Limited nor the Federation of Motor Sports Clubs of India was immediately available for comment when contacted by Press Association Sport.

However, the Times of India quoted a Jaypee Sports International spokesman who said the organisation is "ready to follow" whatever ruling the court hands down.

This latest row over the Indian Grand Prix comes at a difficult time for the event, which has been omitted from the 2014 calendar and has no concrete guarantees to make a return in 2015.

The 2014 race was shelved due to F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone's desire to have the event much earlier in the season, meaning there would have been a very short - and very expensive - turnaround between this year's race and next.

In addition to the practicalities of the scheduling of the race and India's tax laws, difficult economic conditions in India are also making life tough for the event's organisers.

Sauber's India-born team principal Monisha Kaltenborn on Wednesday claimed the sport was in danger of giving up on India too quickly, while Vicky Chandhok, the president of the Federation of Motor Sports Clubs of India, went further, telling the Guardian: "If it doesn't come back in 2015, it may never come back at all. Once you lose a race it can be gone for ever."

Vicky Chandhok's son, former F1 driver Karun Chandhok, has also hit out at the situation, telling the Press Trust of India: "I think brand India is getting affected. People should not underestimate the power of F1 and power of sport.

"For the teams and drivers it is a big headache to reach here. You need to have an extra lawyer for the Indian GP. The bureaucratic process is so big and it should not be."