Sikkim High Court dismisses PIL against Future Gaming agreement with State Govt

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The Sikkim High Court on April 19 dismissed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) that alleged loss of revenue to the State of Sikkim in the backdrop of an invoice/bill dated 26th June 2017 while conducting lottery during the last agreement period entered into by the state and Future Gaming.

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In the earlier hearing dated 24th March 2022, the Court had raised a specific issue as to whether the State of Sikkim suffered any loss of revenue in the backdrop of an invoice/bill dated 26th June 2017, which was sought to be highlighted by the petitioner.

On April 19, when the matter was taken up for consideration, the Additional Advocate General drew the attention of the Division Bench of Chief Justice Biswanath Somadder and Justice Meenakshi Madan Rai to a report in the form of an affidavit affirmed on April 8, 2022, by the Director, Directorate of Sikkim State Lotteries, Finance Department, Government of Sikkim, who has been duly authorised by the state government to file the same.

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On bare perusal of the said report in the form of an affidavit, the Court noted that there is no loss to the State exchequer – or, in other words – the State of Sikkim did not suffer any loss of revenue while the lottery was being conducted, which was the Court’s only concern while entertaining this PIL.

To this, the advocate representing the petitioner drew the attention of the High Court to the counter-affidavit filed on behalf of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India and submitted that the enclosed audit findings therein will reveal that during 2010-2016, the State of Sikkim, while organising around 44,834 draws of various lottery schemes, had committed many lapses in the lottery operations of the State relating to monitoring, maintenance of records, the deposit of revenues, failure to authenticate and ascertain prize payments by Marketing Agents (MAs), the drawing process, failure to obtain details of prize-winning tickets and unsold tickets from the MAs and absence of checks and controls on the operation of lottery schemes.

The petitioner counsel also referred to various portions of the report of the CAG for the year ending March 2016 in respect of the performance audit on Sikkim state lotteries.

The Court on examination of the report containing the results of the performance audit on Sikkim state lotteries, prepared by the CAG, the Court found that the period reflected therein, i.e., between 2010 till March 2016, is not the period under judicial scrutiny so far as this PIL is concerned. The period with which the High Court is concerned centres around the last agreement period between July 2016 and July 2021, which was entered into by the State of Sikkim and Future Gaming, for conducting the lottery.

During the period July 2016 to July 2021, the State of Sikkim did not suffer any loss of revenue while the lottery was being conducted by Future Gaming. As such, the Court dismissed the PIL observing that Jojo Jose – who has instituted the PIL before the Court is none but a meddlesome busybody seeking this Court’s intervention by filing the instant PIL for reasons which are clearly not bona fide.