High court orders CBI probe into Kerala lottery scam

Kochi, May 24 (IANS) The Kerala High Court Tuesday gave its nod for a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into an alleged multi-crore-rupee lottery scam in the state.

There are allegations against agents of Bhutan and Sikkim lotteries that they siphoned off Rs.80,000 crore in the last four years by violating tax laws and diverting unclaimed prize money.

A division bench headed by Chief Justice J. Chelameswar gave the direction for a CBI probe on a petition filed by Congress leader V.D. Sateeshan.

The court issued the order after the central government, represented by Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium, agreed for a CBI probe.

Sateeshan approached the court in March demanding a CBI probe into the alleged scam.

Former chief minister V.S. Achuthanandan was keen on a probe but his cabinet colleague and former finance minister Thomas Issac opposed it.

Isaac accused the Congress-led central government of reluctance to transfer the powers to states to ban lotteries.

Reacting to the high court verdict, Issac while welcoming the probe said that one thing that should be included in the probe is the reason why the central government all this while was not keen on it.

‘It must be recalled that in 2005 a public interest litigation demanding a CBI probe in the case had come up but the then chief minister Oommen Chandy (of the Congress) sat on that and saw to it that it never happened,’ said Issac.

State Congress president Ramesh Chennithala told reporters in Delhi that his party welcomed the decision on CBI probe since it will bring out the truth behind the lottery muddle.