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MMC licence to carry out matka trade in council stalls surfaces again

Panjim: A 2012 decision of the Mormugao Municipal Council (MMC) in approving and giving trade licences for the operation of ‘matka’ stalls in Vasco, is likely to cause some discomfort to the council.

Kashinath Shetye, who is fighting a battle in the High Court to stop the illegal gambling, said he would be bringing this issue to the notice of the court as it proves that government officers, in connivance with matka bookies, handed over stall for illegal gambling knowing it was unlawful.

Information provided by MMC through an RTI on May 4, 2012 states 14 licences were issued for matka operations in municipal stalls. The stall numbers SHC-349, SHC-104, MHC-42, GHRSSIDC stall, SHC-123, SHC-64, SHC-60, Occup No. 14, Occup No. 4, SHC-52, SHC-174, SHC-404, SHC-165 and SHC-71 were issued trade licence to operate matka.

“This is a very sorry state of affairs where trade licences are issued to operate matka by a municipal council. I have time and again pointed out in the Court that connivance with public servants led to this illegal trade operating smoothly,” Shetye said.

When contacted, Urban Development Minister Francis D’Souza said the Municipality cannot allow illegal businesses to operate. He said the Chief Officer is responsible for issuing such trade licences. “Matka was illegal then and it is illegal now also, I will see that whoever is the Chief Officer will be held responsible for issuing trade licences to operate matka in Municipal stalls,” D’Souza said.

The RTI information was sourced by one Prashant Vast who had also filed a complaint with the Urban Development Director. Then Director Elvis Gomes had passed an order stating matka, as is commonly understood, is an illegal gambling activity which cannot be permitted to be carried out by the Municipal Council.

“It appears that the Respondent (MMC) has not taken appropriate action to curb illegalities within their premises and therefore this is the fit case under provision of Section 297 to give directions to seriously examine the contention of this applicant and if necessary to take the help of the Police and even case eviction of the occupant based on Police action, so as to maintain the sanctity of public premises,” Gomes had stated in his order.

The High Court of Bombay at Goa last year while disposing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) against matka had said, “Matka gambling which is spreading in Goa can be considered to be a major evil to the society as it can lead to an addiction.”[H]

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