Finance Minister T.M. Thomas Isaac has said the Kerala lottery will have only four draws a month from September.
Addressing a press conference here on Tuesday, he said the decision was in response to the High Court's recent observation about the number of draws a lottery could have.
“While disposing of a writ petition filed by Megha Distributors, promoters of Sikkim and Bhutan lotteries, the court pointed out that Section 4 (h) of the Lotteries Regulation Act, 1998, stipulated that no lottery shall have more than one draw a week,” he said.
Fall in profit
He said that annual profits from Kerala lottery were likely to fall from Rs.100 crore to Rs.20 crore when the number of its monthly draws would be brought down from about 30 to four.
“The Department of State Lotteries will make arrangements for refunding tickets sold for more than four draws originally scheduled for September. The State government will do everything possible to ensure that the decision will not affect the lives of 1 lakh lottery sellers. Their minimum earnings should be protected,” he stated.
He said the Kerala government would collect every month taxes for sale of tickets for four draws of each inter-State lottery.
“But checking the number of draws, and controlling the operation and sale of inter-State lotteries are the tasks of the Union government. The High Court had clearly stated this,” he said.
He quoted the court's observation in this regard: “As already held by the Division Bench of this court, violation of any of the conditions stipulated under section 4 of the central Act is the look-out of the Central government. The power, jurisdiction and competence to deal with such situations, and to prohibit lotteries vest exclusively with the Centre.”
The Minister observed that the court had stated that “a rule has necessarily to sub serve the Act and can never override the provisions of the Act.”
He quoted the court's observation, “The rules now framed by the government, after nearly 12 years of the enactment (of the Act), particularly under Rule 6 providing for any number of draws as stated therein virtually defeats the purpose of the enactment.”
For detailed study
The Minister said the State government would seek the possibility of filing a writ petition in the High Court seeking detailed study of how certain rules overrode the provisions of the Act.
He said an all-party meeting would be convened in the State to discuss possible amendment of the Lotteries Regulation Act to give more powers to the State government, including the right to ban illegal inter-State lotteries.
He urged Leader of the Opposition Oommen Chandy to withdraw his allegations related to the lottery issue.
“His remarks are not in keeping with the stature of the Opposition leader. I challenge him to engage in a debate with me on the issue,” Mr. Isaac said.