If parents can buy cricket gear, they can buy bottled water too: Bombay HC

By: Express News Service | Mumbai |

Updated: July 21, 2022 4:53:59 pm

Children playing cricket in an academy. (File Photo)

The Bombay High Court on Thursday pulled up a petitioner seeking facilities, including drinking water, on public grounds for cricket players, and said that if parents can buy their children cricket gear, they can buy bottled water as well. It added that the cricket is not a game that is originally from India and the priority would be to ensure there is sufficient supply of water in villages and other areas having limited supply of the same.

“You are fortunate that your parents can buy you a chest guard, knee guards and everything that is required for cricket. If your parents can buy you all this, then they can buy you bottled water. Think of the villagers who cannot afford water. Do you know that Aurangabad city gets potable water once in every week? Why can’t you get your own water? You want to play cricket which is not our original game, it is originally not from India,” a division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Makarand S Karnik orally remarked.

The bench was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) by advocate Rahul Tiwari, which raised grievances that cricket players, especially those playing in Mumbai, are not provided basic sanitary and medical facilities during initial stages of their career and this violates their fundamental rights.

The court said that the petitioner’s demands were luxuries that come much later in the government’s list of priorities. “Are these not luxuries? In the list of priority, your case will come at the 100th position. Have you seen the list of issues we are going through? Flood in Chiplun, unauthorised constructions. First let us ensure that villages in Maharashtra get water. Everyone has a fundamental right to live and survive. We can’t forget about the villagers who drowned,” the court said.

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A division bench of Chief Justice Datta and Justice Ravindra V Ghuge had earlier this month expressed “shock” over the lack of potable water for residents of Aurangabad city and directed the authorities concerned to expedite procedure for giving approvals for projects to provide regular drinking water to the city.

On Thursday, the court said that the petitioner should try to perform his fundamental duties under Article 51A of the Constitution and help those in need. “First take care of your fundamental duty. Have you shown compassion for living creatures? Living creatures include human beings. Have you thought about the people of Chiplun or the people of Aurangabad? This will be absolutely at the bottom of the priority list of the government. What have you done to fulfil your fundamental duty? We don’t want to waste time here. Please understand,” the bench said and adjourned the matter.

The court questioned the petitioner as to whether the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), to whom he was seeking directions to, would come under the definition of ‘state’ and if the court can pass directions against them.

Tiwari had said that when a ground is booked for practice, the civic body or sports association managing the ground charges fees for the same. However, even on grounds where professional cricket camps are organised, no access to clean drinking water or toilets for the players is provided, the petitioner said. He said the MCA and BCCI are ignoring the grievances, whereas it was their duty to provide such facilities and even the dressing rooms should have been provided.

On July 4, another bench of the high court led by Justice Anil K Menon had asked the BCCI, MCA, state government and civic bodies to provide facilities, including toilets, drinking water and medical help on public grounds across Maharashtra, where matches are held by the cricketing bodies.

The bench orally said that adults and children play cricket and other sports on public grounds across the state and most of these grounds are managed by cricket associations. These associations should provide facilities at training camps and other places where cricket is played so as to encourage the players, said the bench. “This is not an adversarial litigation. You might get your next star from a public ground. So many bright children are playing on public grounds,” Justice Menon had remarked.

The bench also pulled up cricket associations and civic bodies and said that they cannot claim lack of funds as an excuse to not provide facilities. “These are the last organisations that can say they do not have funds,” Justice Menon had said.

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