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Tuesday, Nov 18, 2003

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HC upholds Kerala Govt curbs on other State lotteries

K.C. Gopakumar

Kochi , Nov. 17

THE Kerala High Court on Monday upheld the restrictions imposed by the State Government on the sale and distribution of paper and online lotteries of other State governments in the State.

Mr Justice C.N. Ramachandran Nair upheld the restrictions while dismissing a batch of writ petitions filed by various distributors and agents.

The court also upheld the Rule 24(3) of the Kerala State Lotteries and Online Lotteries (Regulations) Rules 2003 stipulating prior permission to the State Government for the sale and marketing of lotteries of other States and Union Territories.

It also made it clear that those other than the Kerala State lotteries could be sold only after obtaining permission from the Secretary to Taxes Department.

The application seeking permission should be submitted before the Taxes Secretary through the Director of Lotteries by the State Government concerned.

The Secretary, after conducting inquiries through the Commercial Taxes Department and hearing the views of the State governments, should issue orders granting approval for marketing the lotteries.

The judge also said that the distributors or wholesale agents could approach the Secretary for permission to continue their business till final orders were passed on the permission application filed by the State governments. The Secretary should conduct the inquiry within two weeks and grant permission for the sale of lotteries.

The court also suggested that the Government should consider prohibiting the sale of all the lotteries including the one organised by the State Government, even at the risk of some revenue loss if the social evils associated with the lotteries were of such magnitude.

The court made the observation while taking note of the Tamil Nadu Government's decision to discontinue its lotteries and forgo the income from the sale of lotteries.

The petitioners had contended that the State Government had no authority to impose restrictions as such power had been vested with the Central Government under the Lotteries Regulation Act.

Meanwhile, sale of lotteries from other States have been banned in the Ernakulam district by the District Collector, Mr Gyanesh Kumar.

In a release issued here, the Collector said that the Revenue Divisional Offices of Fort Kochi and Muvattupuzha, the City Police Commissioner of Kochi and the Deputy Commissioners of Commercial Taxes have been asked to take necessary steps to close down the retain outlets of the banned lotteries in their jurisdiction.

This is as per the Kerala State Lotteries and Online Lotteries (Regulations) Rules, 2003. A reference has also been made to a High Court order in this regard.

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