Is government willing to temporarily allow Bangalore Turf Club to hold horse races on May 25 and 26, asks Karnataka High Court

Updated - May 21, 2024 11:28 pm IST

Published - May 21, 2024 11:11 pm IST - Bengaluru

The High Court of Karnataka on Tuesday asked the Advocate General to get an instruction by May 23 on whether the State government is willing to give temporary permission with stringent conditions to the Bangalore Turf Club Ltd (BTCL) to conduct horse races on May 25 and 26 pending consideration of BTCL’s applications for a licence for all the races scheduled for the year 2024.

Vacation bench of Justice M.G.S Kamal passed the interim order in this regard after hearing the three separate petitions filed by the BTCL, the Karnataka Racehorse Owners’ Association and the Karnataka Trainers Association.

The petitioners have sought a direction to the Government to consider the applications filed by the BTCL for the grant of licences for betting on horse racing to be held on-course and off-course for May, June, July, August and for the subsequent all-India racing fixtures for the year 2024-25 under the provisions of the Mysore Race Course Licensing Act, 1952 and the rules.

Hundreds of employees, permanent, temporary, and daily wagers, are impacted by the non-holding of races from April this year due to the non-granting of licence by the Government after March, Senior Advocate Sriranga S, appearing for the BTCL, has argued while pointing out that the Government is also losing revenue in terms of GST due to the non-conduct of races.

Racehorse owners were also affected by the non-grant of licence, as the majority of racehorses are in Bengaluru at present, and the horse races are held only in Bengaluru during May, June, and July, pointed out Senior Advocate K.N. Phanindra, who represented the Racehorse owners’ association.

Meanwhile, A-G Shashi Kiran Shetty said that the Government requires four to six weeks to consider the applications and representations made by the BTCL while pointing out that nothing would happen if the permission for races scheduled for May 25 and 26 is not granted as no races have been permitted since April. The A-G also contended that the government has the power in law to withhold the licence.

To a query by the court on licences regularly granted by the government for several years, the A-G said the government has to examine the outcome of the criminal case registered against several bookies of BTCL for allegedly evading tax and illegally collecting betting amount before considering grant of licence. He also pointed out that investigations have revealed huge differences in the actual collection of betting amounts by the bookies as against the amount declared by them.

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