Kerala Governor Khan signs ordinance amending GST law on gambling

The amendments were made to the state GST law in accordanceto the GST Act, the state government had earlier said.

BySouth First Desk

Published Jan 05, 2024 | 5:58 PMUpdatedJan 05, 2024 | 5:58 PM

Arif Mohammad Khan Kerala Governor

Amidst the ongoing tussle between the Raj Bhavan and the Left government in the state, Kerala Governor Arif Mohammad Khan on Friday, 5 January, signed an ordinance amending the state GST law concerning gambling.

Raj Bhavan sources confirmed that Khan had signed the ordinance.

The state government promulgated the ordinance after the 50th Goods and Service Tax (GST) Council meeting had fixed 28 percent GST on gambling at casinos, horse racing, and online gaming and had also decided that the tax should be levied on the face value of the bet.

Subsequently, the Union government notified the amendment to the GST Act.

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Amendments made according to GST Act

The amendments were made to the state GST law in accordance with that, the state government had earlier said.

The ordinance includes provisions to remove some of the ambiguities in the existing GST law regarding betting for money including online gaming, betting at casinos and horse racing, the government had earlier said.

Governor Khan had, on 6 December, said that the state government should come to the Raj Bhavan and give him an explanation if they wanted urgent action regarding any Bill or ordinance.

The Governor said that his enquiries after seeing the news reports found that the ordinances had come two-and-a-half weeks ago.

Khan also said he was open to advice from the state government, “but not pressure from them.”

Khan’s statement assumes significance as he has admitted that he succumbed to the pressure from the state government regarding the re-appointment of Gopinath Ravindran as vice-chancellor (VC) of Kannur University, a decision that has been quashed by the Supreme Court.

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‘Succumbed to pressure’

Earlier, the Governor told reporters in Thiruvananthapuram that he had succumbed to the government pressure only because there was a legal opinion from the Advocate General (AG), the highest law officer in the state, in favour of the re-appointment.

“I have said before the the media that what I did was wrong. But, I succumbed to that pressure only because there was a legal opinion from the Advocate General. Otherwise, the political pressure I would have resisted.

“If I have some confusion about the legality of something, to whom would I go? The Advocate General. He is the highest legal officer in the state,” Khan said.

He claimed that while agreeing to the re-appointment he had said that the Advocate General’s opinion was illegal and he wrote the same on the file.

On the status of the vacant VC positions in several universities in the state, Khan said that he as Chancellor has set the process in motion for filling those posts as soon as the apex court judgment came.

He, however, said that the positions were vacant for so long, in some cases almost a year, because of the state government.

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‘Open to advice’

Khan said that according to media reports, the state government had asked university syndicates not to send their nominee for the search and selection committees and to wait for his tenure as Governor to end.

“With the SC verdict coming, the appointment process was set in motion, it will take some time,” he said.

Asked whether he would seek the government’s advice with regard to the appointments, Khan said, “I am open to advice from them, but I am not open to pressure from them.”

The Supreme Court, while quashing Ravindran’s reappointment, had berated the Left government for its “unwarranted intervention” in the matter.

The apex court had found fault with Khan’s order reappointing Ravindran to the post, saying the Governor had earlier “abdicated or surrendered” the statutory powers for reappointing the VC.

It also said it is the Chancellor who is conferred with competence under law to appoint or reappoint VCs. “No other person, even the pro-chancellor or any superior authority can interfere with the functioning of the statutory authority,” it had held.

Following the verdict, Khan had said that state Higher Education Minister R Bindu was not to be blamed as the chief minister had used her to seek the reappointment of Ravindran.

He accused Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan of exerting pressure on him in the matter.

(With PTI inputs)