The Supreme Court on Thursday declined an urgent hearing of a petition to reschedule the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2020 because of the coronavirus outbreak.
Petitioner-advocate Mohan Babu Agarwal told a Vacation Bench, led by Justice U.U. Lalit, that holding the IPL, starting on March 29, would constitute a risk as crowds of over 40,000 would flock stadia across the country, foreign delegates would come and the matches would go on for most of the next two months.
But Mr. Justice Lalit, without opining on the merits of the petition, said the Vacation Bench was set up for a specific purpose, which did not include an urgent hearing of petitions to reschedule IPL matches. The Bench asked the lawyer to plead for an urgent hearing before the Regular Bench when the court reopens after the Holi vacation on March 16. “This is not a matter which cannot wait till the re-opening of the court,” Mr. Justice Lalit said.
Mr. Agarwal told the court that players, commentators and broadcasters from the affected countries might come to India for the matches, leading to the spread of the virus. “IPL is just a domestic professional tournament with no contribution to ICC records and is a private tournament, and the risk in the times of COVID-19 [coronavirus] is quite high, owing to a huge crowd gathering, including players, staff and cheerleaders,” the petition said.
“They [the Board of Control for Cricket in India and other authorities concerned] should explain how they are going to deal with the recent threat of COVID-19, and is it not the right time to either postpone or defer the same [IPL] to a future date…?” it said.