[Exclusive] Supreme Court: Goa casinos directed to deposit 75% ARF for Covid years

Published on:

The Supreme Court bench comprising of Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Aravind Kumar has directed the casino operators in Goa to deposit 75% of annual recurring fee (ARF) for Covid19 impacted years pending the outcome of appeals against the Bombay High Court (Goa bench) order delivered earlier this month.

The casino operators had approached the High Court praying to waive the annual recurring fees (ARF) plus the 12 per cent penal interest summing up of Rs 321.66 crore during the closure of casinos during lockdown period.

The High Court dismissed the case and directed the casinos to pay the whole principle sum within four weeks of the ruling. Aggrieved, the casino operators have now approached the Supreme Court. The casino operators have engaged senior counsels Dr. Abhishek Manu Singhvi, Mukul Rohtagi, Nikhil Sakhardande, and Vivek Nankani for the appeal.

The casino operators before the Bombay High Court argued that charging of ARF during covid period where the casinos were forced to shut down due to orders of the government is arbitrary and unreasonable.

The High Court bench pointed out that a similar relief—not paying license fees to Goa’s bars and restaurants during the covid period—was not previously given by the Court.

The petitioners include casino operators Delta Pleasure Cruises Company Pvt Ltd, Delta Corp Limited, Golden Peace Infrastructure Pvt Ltd, Golden Peace Hotels and Resorts Pvt Ltd, Goldfinch Resorts Pvt Ltd, Highstreet Cruises and Entertainment Pvt. Ltd.

With the Supreme Court directing to deposit 75% ARF, the operators have no option but to comply with Goa government’s demand with remaining 25% subject to interest if the appeals are dismissed. But if the operators deposit 100% ARF demand now, they would not be burdened with interest obligation.

The matter will now be listed after October 2023.