Attorney General doubts maintainability of Meghalaya’s lawsuit on Lotteries Regulation Act provision

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R Venkataramani, the Attorney General for India, notified the Supreme Court (SC) on Monday that the Centre has raised preliminary concerns over the suit’s eligibility to continue to challenge Section 5 of the Lotteries (Regulation) Act 1998.

The Supreme Court was petitioned by the governments of Meghalaya and Sikkim in opposition to the decision to outlaw their state lotteries in other states. According to Section 5 of the Act, the Centre has given state governments the authority to forbid the sale of tickets of a lottery that is organized, run, or promoted by any other state.

Venkataramani said to the Bench composed of Justices Dinesh Maheshwari and Hrishikesh Roy that they have objections to the maintainability of the suit.

According to LiveLaw, Venkataramani informed the Bench that the SC has rendered two contradictory rulings on the viability of legal actions to challenge statutory provisions. A bigger Bench was eventually assigned to it, and the Court was informed that it had come up in August of last year.

He then told the Bench that they can wait for an outcome of proceedings or alternatively he can make a submission. The petitioner then briefly explained his plea.

The Bench replied, “If the maintainability itself is challenged, then that particular issue will have to be determined.” A lawsuit will always be filed in an attempt to overturn a rule, said senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, who arrived during the middle of the session.

The council agreed saying, “It’s a purely legal question, of whether section 5 is valid or invalid. If a question is raised, it must have some basis…According to me, a suit lies under section 9 of the Code of Civil Procedure.”

The Bench responded, saying, “Basis or no basis will be determined by the Court.”

The State of Meghalaya was then given a week to respond, and the AG was given two weeks to submit a brief remark.

The other defendants were also instructed to provide their written statements within two weeks and the next hearing will be held on February 7.