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The Indian gambling and betting industry has survived within a sphere of legal ambiguity and uncertainty, with many political figureheads occasionally raising questions regarding its status. In the latest instance, independent Rajya Sabha Member of Parliament (MP) and former Samajwadi Party General Secretary Amar Singh posed a starred question on legalisation of gambling and betting in the Upper House of the Parliament.
Singh’s question to the Union Minister for Law and Justice, Ravi Shankar Prasad enquired whether the Law Commission of India has sent a proposal to legalise gambling and betting in the country. He also asked for the details of the Law Commission’s proposal and action proposed to be taken by the government on the Law Commission’s suggestions.
However, this is not the first time that such questions have been presented to the government. Back in July, when the monsoon session of Parliament was in progress, two Rajya Sabha MPs, AIADMK’s Vijila Sathyananth and Kerala Congress Jose K. Mani had asked questions along similar lines.
Sathyananth has asked whether “the Law Commission has submitted a report to the Government proposing that since it is impossible to stop illegal gambling, the only viable option is to regulate gambling in sports”.
Mani has also raised a similar question asking if the Law Commission has indeed recommended legalising betting since a ban has driven these activities underground.
Prasad had tabled a written response stating that the 276th Law Commission report on betting and gambling is “under consideration of the Government”.
A month later, in August, six parliamentarians, namely R. Gopalakrishnan, C. Gopalakrishnan, K. Maragatham, and P. Nagarajan from AIADMK, along with Raksha Khadse and Narendra Sawaikar from BJP, asked the government seven questions in relation to the Law Commission’s recommendation to regulate gambling and allow foreign investment in the casino sector as well as caps on bets and other proposed restrictions. The parliamentarians also sought to know the government’s reaction to the Law Commission’s suggestions.
Union Minister of State for Law, Justice and Corporate Affairs, P.P. Chaudhary had also tabled a written response in the Lok Sabha that reiterated the Law Commission’s clarificatory press note which stated that legalising gambling and betting in India is not desirable in the present scenario, and that a complete ban on unlawful gambling and betting must be ensured.
Singh’s starred question is slated to be answered by the Law Minister on 14th December, however, members are allowed to ask follow-up questions to the oral response that the government is obligated to provide to starred questions.