New Delhi: Fate of T20 World Cup matches expected to be held at Ferozshah Kotla grounds here hangs in balance, with the Delhi High Court awaiting the municipality's response on whether it can grant DDCA a final occupancy certificate for the stadium.
A bench of justices S Muralidhar and Vibhu Bakhru asked South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) to come back with instructions on whether it can grant the certificate based on an undertaking by DDCA that it will ensure full compliance in three weeks.
The bench was of the view that "ultimately it is the safety of the stadium which will host the match, that is paramount".
It also observed that a conditional final occupancy certificate cannot be granted, adding that it does not want anyone to say later that something untoward happened there due to lack of compliances or due to some minor deviation.
"We should adhere to the highest standards," it said.
The court made the observations after advocate Sangram Patnaik, appearing for Delhi and Districts Cricket Association (DDCA), told the bench that Monday, 8 February was the last date for informing BCCI whether the stadium can be fixed as a venue as tickets would be sold globally from Tuesday.
"If today [Monday] is the last date, you should have done it (compliances) by now. If you don't have a stadium prepared, how can you sell tickets? If tickets are sold under court orders and later stadium is found to be unsafe, then what happens? Tell BCCI to wait," the courts said.
Meanwhile, advocate Gaurang Kanth, appearing for SDMC, told the court that an occupancy certificate cannot be granted on the basis of an undertaking.
He said DDCA had given them the plans on February 5 and SDMC had inspected the stadium on February 6 when they found that only 40 per cent of the work of correcting deviations in the structure had been carried out.
Patnaik claimed that 80 per cent of work had been completed, but said even if it is 40 per cent then too SDMC can give the certificate on an undertaking that the entire work would be completed in three weeks.
He said an amount of Rs 50 lakh would also be paid to SDMC towards property tax dues.
Patnaik said that DDCA had lost out on hosting a India-Sri Lanka match at the stadium on February 12 as a no objection certificate (NOC) was not available from Land and Development Officer (L&DO) over payment of dues, when in fact L&DO had to refund Rs 83 lakh to it.
DDCA has sought directions to the SDMC to issue it an occupancy certificate to hold matches of upcoming T20 World Cup at Ferozshah Kotla stadium in March this year.
It has said it has been granted a NOC from L&DO for getting occupancy or completion certificate from SDMC.
The high court on November 18, 2015, while allowing DDCA to hold the India-South Africa test at Kotla, had directed it to obtain all clearances and NOCs from local authorities, including L&DO, by March 31 this year.
DDCA has also said that work was in progress regarding the corrections in deviations in the present structure of the stadium as pointed out by SDMC, and everything would be completed within three weeks.
The application has been filed in the main issue which dates back to 2011 when DDCA filed a plea against a property tax assessment made by the SDMC with regard to the stadium. The matter is still pending in the high court.
Thereafter, prior to holding a match at the stadium, DDCA moves an application for a provisional occupancy certificate as it did not have a completion certificate from SDMC, for which an updated property tax return is also required, besides NOCs from various agencies.
As per SDMC, there was no provision under the law to issue a provisional occupancy certificate.