NEW DELHI: Meghalaya led the charge in the Supreme Court on Friday for permission to states to run pan-India lotteries by seeking review of the court’s earlier decision and challenging the validity of Section 5 of the Lotteries (Regulation) Act, 1998.
Appearing for Meghalaya, senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi told a bench headed by Chief Justice N V
that the hilly north-eastern states are small in size and a major chunk of their revenue used to come from running lotteries.
He said the financial condition of these states have suffered majorly during the pandemic and requested the court to lift the restriction imposed by the SC – a state can run a business in lottery in another state if the latter too was organizing lotteries. Which meant, a state which did not organize lotteries can ban lotteries of other states.
For Sikkim, 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 they cannot have any regulatory power over a central list subject in a federal structure like India, he argued.
The bench asked additional solicitor general Sanjay jain to spell out the Centre’s stand in two weeks and posted the matter for hearing on August 17.
According to Rohatgi, at present only Kerala, Maharashtra, Punjab, Sikkim, Meghalaya, Goa and West Bengal have state-organised lotteries and hence these states can run their lotteries in these seven states only. Chhattisgarh counsel
opposed the plea saying the SC had rightly put the restriction considering the socio-economic impact of lotteries on the general public, especially the poor.
Ramana said one can understand restrictions on private-run lotteries as there could be some apprehension about the transparency of draws, but the same may not be true for state-organised lotteries as some credibility is attached to them being run by the government itself.
Agreeing with Rohatgi, the CJI 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.