Meghalaya urges legislative change to run pan-India lotteries

Meghalaya requests permission to run pan-India lotteries
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Meghalaya is leading calls for India to reconsider the restrictions imposed by its 1998 Lotteries (Regulation) Act, appealing for permission for states to run pan-India lotteries.

As reported by The Times of India, the northeastern state – where English is the official language – is seeking a review of an earlier court decision that prevents states from operating lotteries in other states where one is already being run.

Meghalaya was represented by Senior Advocate Mukul Rohtagi in court on Friday, where he told a bench headed by Chief Justice N V Ramana that the hilly northeastern states are small in size and a major chunk of their revenue used to come from operating lotteries.

According to Rohtagi, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have taken their toll on states like Meghalaya.

Currently, only Meghalaya, Kerala, Maharashtra, Punjab, Sikkim, Goa and West Bengal have state-organised lotteries, and thus can only operate in these seven states only.

Sumeer Sodhi, Counsel for the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh, opposed the plea, contending that the Supreme Court had rightly imposed the restrictions considering the socio-economic impact of lotteries on the general population.

Meanwhile, Sikkim, represented by Senior Advocate A M Singhvi, said that the Lotteries Act is a central legislation, the subject being covered by List I.

However, under Section 5, the centre has impermissibly delegated the power to regulate lotteries to states, though Singhvi argues they cannot have any regulatory power over a central list subject in a federal structure like India.

Speaking in court, CJI Ramana said: “In a federal structure, can one state ban the trading of goods, in this case lottery tickets, of one state in its territory? Is this logical? Let the centre make its stand clear.”

The matter will be resumed in another hearing on August 17.