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In a blow to the state government, the Kerala High court today directed tax authorities to receive advance tax from Megha Distributors treating them as promoters of Bhutan lottery in the state.A division bench, comprising justices Thothathil B Radhakrishnan and P Bhavadasan also vacated the findings of a single judge restricting the numbers of draws to once a week.

The bench passed the judgement after dismissing the writ appeal by the government against the single judge’s finding that Megha distributors were the promoter of Bhutan lottery in Kerala and allowing appeals by Megha distributor and Bhutan against restricting of draws to once a week.

The bench held that as per the bilateral agreement, Bhutan can appoint a promoter and tax authorities cannot insist on scrutiny of the agreement. Megha was appointed by Bhutan and given registration certificate in 2005 which was renewed from time to time. Once registration is granted, it continues to be in force unless it is cancelled, court held.The bench directed the tax authorities to receive tax due from October from Megha without claiming interest.The bench clarified that such remittance would entitle lawful transit of ticket for sale.

The court held that it is up to the state government to ensure that the Centre is moved for action or reply in the complaints having regard to serious nature of issues raised.”Concentration of wealth is not the vision of constitution. The question whether the tickets are printed in a security press is having national importance.

The central government has not answered the question of state whether Bhutan lottery is printed in security press,” it observed.The lottery case was in the headlines as former Congress spokesperson Abhisekh Singvi appeared as counsel for Megha Distributors in the high court much to the embarrassment of his own party in the state which was spearheading an attack against the LDF government over the lottery issue.Singhvi’s appearance gave LDF some respite as the red- faced Congress leaders tried hard to drive home the fact they were unaware of his decision to appear for Megha distributors.

The senior advocate later withdrew from the case.Another controversy broke out when Tamil Nadu Advocate General P S Raman appeared for Bhutan lottery in the lottery case prompting Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan to write to his Tamil Nadu counterpart, M Karunanidhi.Raman also withdrew from the case.With the civic polls round the corner, both the LDF and Congress-led UDF were using the lottery issue as a major tool to attack each other.While the UDF feels the government was ‘soft’ towards Megha distributors, promoters of Bhutan and Sikkim lotteries, the state government said it was keen to restrict operation of other state lotteries in Kerala as they were evading tax and siphoning off huge amounts from the state.

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May 2024