Mumbai casino decision to be made in six months

Bombay High Court recently directed the Maharashtra government to declare its position on legalising casinos in Mumbai within six months. After a university student discovered the Maharashtra Casinos Act that passed almost four decades ago, the government has been tasked to clarify its position on casinos.

Approved by the legislative assembly in 1976, the Act supersedes the Bombay Prevention of Gambling Act 1887 that outlawed gambling in the state. According to the measure, the law becomes active when the state government makes an official notification. But the bill was shelved until the findings were presented and a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed.

The PIL was filed a non-implementation of the will of the legislature due to executive oversight or inaction, which goes against the constitutional doctrine of separation of powers and legislative supremacy. Last month, the government was ordered to respond to the PIL within one month, but has told the Bombay High Court it has failed to make a decision.

A division bench of the High Court comprising of Justices VM Kanade and Shalini Phansalkar-Joshi have now given the state government six months to make a decision on whether the legislation should stand. It was also noted the student who filed the PIL was at liberty to approach to the court with a fresh petition if not satisfied with the government’s efforts.

If the Maharashtra Casinos (Control and Tax) Act 1976 is enacted, India’s west coast state of Maharashtra, which is home to the densely-populated Mumbai, would be able to issue casino licenses. It would join Goa and Sikkim as the only other states in the nation that have passed legislation to override the 1887 law and permit casino gaming within its borders.