‘Any correspondence with Bhutan on lottery issue to be treated as diplomatic

: The Union government on Thursday sought the permission of the Kerala High Court to produce in a sealed cover before the court the diplomatic correspondences it had with the Royal Government of Bhutan over the violation of the Lottery Regulation Act and Rules by its lottery promoters in Kerala.

In an affidavit, Home Secretary G. K. Pillai said the Union government could finalise its action on the petition filed by the State government, complaining about the irregularities in the conduct of Bhutan Lotteries by the promoters, only after exchanging diplomatic correspondences with the representatives of the Royal Government of Bhutan, especially in the light of a treaty entered into with the government of Bhutan.

However, all such correspondences were to be effected through the Union Ministry of External Affairs. Any such correspondence with the government of Bhutan was to be treated “as diplomatic and privileged documents.” Therefore, they could not be given to the parties in the writ petitions. But, the Union government was prepared to submit the same to the court for perusal as and when ordered during the course of hearing.

In another affidavit filed earlier, the Union government said the Kerala Tax on Paper Lotteries (Amendment) Ordinance was valid and constitutional. It added that the State government had the power to enhance the tax on the sale of lotteries. The Ordinance has increased the tax on paper lotteries and provided that advance tax for selling lotteries of other States would be received only on verification of the application submitted by the promoter along with a certificate issued by the respective State government or Union Territory or Country to the effect that the provisions of the Lotteries (Regulation) Act, 1988 and the rules hereunder had been complied with.

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