1 Nov 2013

Punjab & Haryana High Court approves Punjab state lotteries, rejects PIL on number of lottery draws

The Punjab & Haryana High Court in a recent decision Santokh Singh v. State of Punjab & Others (Civil Writ Petition Number 3575 of 2013, decision date 29th October 2013) ruled that 28 weekly schemes and draws conducted/approved by the Punjab government are neither illegal nor ultra vires the Lotteries (Regulation) Act, 1998.

The Petitioner through his Public Interest Litigation (PIL) claimed that the 28 weekly schemes conducted by the Punjab government were against Section 4(h) of the Lotteries (Regulation) Act which required every lottery organised by the state to have only one draw per week.

The Petitioner pointed out the fact that while Section 4(h) of the Act allows only one draw by a state per week, Rule 3(6) of the Lottery (Regulation) Rules, 2010 allows a state to have twenty-four lottery draws per day from all schemes put together.

The Petitioner claimed that Punjab government was organising 28 weekly lotteries and equal number of draws every week frustrating the object and purpose of Section 4(h) and general scheme of the Lotteries (Regulation) Act, 1998.

The Court rejected this argument saying that though the scheme of the Act made it clear that it was for protection of the poorer sections of the society from the lure of lotteries and to prevent malpractices in draws of lotteries. Thus, the business of lotteries was not illegal but merely regulated. State governments could either organise single lottery scheme in which case the restriction of Section 4(h), i.e. single draw per week would apply or multiple lotteries in which case the restriction of 24 draws per day given in Rule 3(6) would be applicable.

The decision of the Punjab & Haryana High Court has put to rest any doubts on organisation of lotteries by state governments making it abundantly clear that the court would not interfere with any lottery schemes organised as per the Lotteries (Regulation) Act and Rules.

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