A law student from Mumbai, studying in Kolkata, has moved the Bombay High Court saying the state has failed in its duty to implement an almost four-decades-old law to legalise casinos in Maharashtra.
Twenty-two-year old Jay Sayta, a final-year student at the National University of Juridical Sciences in Kolkata, stumbled upon the Maharashtra Casinos (Control and Tax) Act, 1976, while researching for his website.
Through his public interest litigation (PIL), which is likely to come up for hearing on Tuesday, Sayta plans to tell the court that though the state Legislative Assembly had passed the Act, which was first published in the Maharashtra Government Gazette on July 22, 1976. It was, however, never notified.
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After receiving RTI replies and doing rounds of Mantralaya, Sayta was informed that the Act was already passed and even the Governor had given his assent to it on July 22, 1976. The budding lawyer, thereafter, on December 5, 2014, wrote a letter to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, requesting him acknowledge the matter and implement the Act immediately.
After failing to get himself heard, Sayta filed the PIL pointing out that the Act provides for licensing of casinos, permitting certain types of casino games in the licensed casinos, taxation on monies paid or agreed to be paid by the participants by way of stakes or bets.
Citing examples of Goa and Sikkim, the PIL says, “Goa and Sikkim are the only two states which permit the setting up of casinos.”
It further says, “State of Goa earned a revenue of over Rs 135 crore from tax on the gambling industry. Goa accounts for 95 per cent of all legal gambling in the country.”
The PIL says that the state government has “arbitrarily and unreasonably” kept in abeyance the Act by not notifying the same. “The state legislature is a creature of the Constitution. The executive cannot, by virtue of its discretion granted to it by the legislature, frustrate the intention of the legislature,” he says.
The inaction and silence, he alleges, is “arbitrary and unjustified”.
Sayta has, therefore, sought court’s directions to the state for the Act’s notification, framing of rules and a proposal for rate of tax. He has urged the court to ask the state to consider, in a time-bound manner, if the notification should be issued to bring the Act into effect.