The Madras High Court on Tuesday, February 13, 2024, said that it shall pass orders on Friday, February 16, on a batch of public interest litigation (PIL) petitions that had questioned the necessity of conducting a Formula 4 night street race around the Island Grounds in the heart of Chennai city.
Justices R. Mahadevan and Mohammed Shaffiq had listed the PIL petitions on Tuesday, and wanted to know whether the plan to conduct the race had been abandoned. Advocate General P.S. Raman replied that the race had only been postponed to the next season.
Pursuant to the clarification, the senior judge in the Second Division Bench told the counsel that they shall pass orders on merits on Friday.
The PIL petitions were filed last year, challenging the State government’s decision to conduct the race on December 9 and 10, 2023. However, the race was postponed due to torrential rains in the ciyt brought by Cyclone Michaung, and the consequent rescue and relief operations that had to be carried out. In the meantime, the Division Bench had heard the batch of PIL petitions filed against the race and reserved its judgement.
The Sports Development Authority of Tamil Nadu (SDAT) had decided to conduct the race in collaboration with Racing Promotions Private Limited. They had entered into a Memorandum of Undertaking (MoU) for the establishment of a street race circuit around the Island Grounds.
The circuit passes through Flag Staff Road and part of Kamarajar Salai through Napier Bridge, before taking a right turn at Sivanandam Salai to join part of Anna Salai, and then is connected back to Flag Staff Road. The pit stops for the race had been planned inside Island Grounds.
The organisers had contended that the conduct of the street race in Chennai would improve the economy of the city, as thousands of people were expected to visit to watch the race, apart from millions of other car race enthusiasts who would watch it on television channels.
However, the PIL petitioners before the court had questioned the need to conduct such a race in the heart of the city instead of confining it to a car race circuit that was already in existence at Irungattukottai on the outskirts of Chennai.