THE Miss World contestants went about their business in the garden city without an apparent hitch, flashing smiles as big as their ambitions as flashbulbs popped and the paparazzi clicked away for posterity. But the legal tangles that threatened to send the final event of the beauty pageant into a disastrous tailspin refused to go away.
Agitation was transformed into litigation as the Karnataka High Court last week heard four public interest petitions against the pageant, filed jointly by the Karnataka Mahila Jagaran and BJP MLA Pramila Nesargi. The four petitions appealed for preventing the Karnataka government from assisting the pageant; preventing unauthorised use of the Chinnaswamy stadium for non-cricketing purposes; preventing the serving of alcohol (champagne) during the finals as it is a violation of the Excise Act; and preventing the use of loudspeakers after 10 pm during the finals as it is a violation of the Police Act.
While the Karnataka State Cricket Association and the state government succeeded in convincing the court that the use of the stadium was not unauthorised, the continuing arguments in the Excise Act and Police Act petitions are not worrying ABCL as the court has said the petitions could even be heard after the pageant.
The appeal before the bench of Chief Justice R.P. Sethi and Justice S. Venkataraman for staying the pageant is giving the organisers sleepless nights. In its interim order, the bench had ruled that the state government would not assist in conducting the pageant without recovering the costs involved from ABCL. More important, the court ruled that the Bangalore police could not deploy central paramilitary forces for security duty.
With arguments concluded, ABCL is gearing up for a verdict that could impose certain restrictions and allow the finals to go through in the best-case scenario or, in a worst-case scenario, for a ruling ordering a stay on the pageant. Says ABCLs harried general manager (legal), Ravishankar: "Anything new and big like the pageant attracts plenty of attention, giving lots of scope for litigation. Handling the several litigations is not the issue for us. It is the issues raised that matter for whatever substance they have." And the substance in the issues involved exposed themselves at the pageants Diwali carnival. Among those present: Nesargis niece, and the vocal pageant opponent and BJP leader of the Opposition in the state assembly, B.S. Yediyurappas daughter and her mother-in-law.