Bill repealing Meghalaya Regulation of Gaming Act passed in legislative assembly

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On Tuesday, 28 March, the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly passed the bill named “Meghalaya Regulation of Gaming (Repeal) Bill 2023”, which repeals the Meghalaya Regulation of Gambling Act 2021.

The bill was finalized to be introduced during the legislative assembly during the cabinet meeting. It was formed through an ordinance approved by the cabinet last year to repeal The Meghalaya Regulation of Gaming Act 2021.

Ardent M. Basaiawmoit, a VPP MLA, moved a motion for amending Clause 3 of the Repealing Bill that allows for saving of certain actions taken under the old law but was later withdrawn after the minister in charge of taxation Abu Taher Mondal notified that one of the licensees had withdrawn the bank guarantee and the duration of the provisional licenses had expired.

Basaiawmoit asserted that if this repealing measure is approved with the saving clause included, it will be rendered ineffective. He said, “It seems that this bill, with the inclusion of a saving clause, is only to hoodwink the people because there has been protested from different quarters of the state against this action brought by the government.”

According to Mondal’s explanation, the saving clause is offered as a measure of safety to ward off future challenges to the government’s and its officials’ conduct in carrying out the tasks required for the execution of the Act and the rules.

Mondal said that the saving clause is put out in accordance with Section 6 of the General Clauses of 1897 and is also a legitimate legislative action by the government based on policy considerations. “Therefore, the saving clause found in the proposed bill is necessary to be written and may not be deleted,” he added.

The Meghalaya Regulation of Gambling Act of 2021, was one of the significant controversies surrounding the state’s casinos. The act was enacted by the state government in order to shut down all illegal gambling casinos and dens and open government-regulated ones.

Following that, the government saw several protests in different parts of states from the Joint Action Committee Against Casino (JACAC), Khasi Students’ Union (KSU), Federation of Khasi Jaintia and Garo People (FKJGP), Hynniewtrep National Youth Front (HNYF) and Synjuk Ki Rangbah Shnong Ri Bhoi.

Minister of Home and Law in Meghalaya, James Sangma, after a meeting with Khasi Jaintia Christian Leaders Forum (KJCLF), revealed that the Meghalaya Regulation of Gambling Act 2021 will be then repealed.