High court of Bombay warns Goa on licensing

Credits: Casinopedia.
Credits: Casinopedia.

The high court of Bombay in Goa has forbid the state government to issue new casino licenses to venues on the Mandovi without its permission.

India.- The floating casinos on the River Mandovi have shaken Goa as there have been proposals to bring them to land and have now been subject of a high court direction to the state government. The order temporarily forbids the authorities to issue new licenses to offshore casinos witout its permission.

The high court, however, determined that their activities are “essentially permissible on the sea” and “refused to order a stop to the casinos that are already operating on the river,” according to The Times of India. The final order is yet to be issued as it will decide on the fate of the 18-year-old casino operators.

“On going through the different dictionary meanings of the word “offshore”, it prima facie (at first sight) appears that offshore activities permissible are essentially towards the sea,” said justices F M Reis and Nutan D Sardessai.

Nonetheless, they added that “by an ad-interim order, the respondent shall not grant permissions for casino licence during the pendency of the above petition in the river without seeking permission of this court.”

Concerns on the word “offshore” seemed to be the main subject of the hearing, as counsel for petitioner Yogesh Nadkarni said as per the law, casinos shouldn’t be allowed to operate in inland water. He said the word “isn’t defined in the 1976 act,” and the dictionary meaning of the word would have to be considered.

Advocate general Dattaprasad Lawande took Nadkarni’s point and brought to notice that “any area beyond the bank of the river or land is a ‘shore’, which would clearly specify that the word “offshore” can also be an area within a river.”

He noted that “offshore” casinos have been operating since 1999 and the authorities concerned have accepted that meaning to the word and permitted the activities to develop on the Mandovi.

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