CHANDIGARH: The Punjab Advocate General on Monday advised the government to restart double-digit lotteries, saying the Sikkim High Court stay against the Centre’s decision to ban this lottery was applicable across’ the country.
The government sought the legal opinion of Advocate General Hardev Singh Mattewal, following the legal and administrative wrangling between Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal and Principal Secretary (Finance) K.B.S. Sidhu over the issue of again starting the double-digit lottery, which the Union Ministry of Home Affairs had banned on April 1 across the country.
There was also a difference of opinion over the April 15 directive of the MHA whether the Sikkim High Court stay on double-digit lottery was binding on other states. The MHA, in its letter addressed to the Punjab Chief Secretary, had requested to send a report that the lotteries organized by the state were being run in compliance with the Lotteries (Regulation) Act 1998 and the Lotteries (Regulation) Rules 2010.
Referring to the Sikkim High Court order, the MHA stated that in terms of Article 226 of the Constitution, the stay would only be applicable in the jurisdiction of that High Court.
Ending this confusion, Mattewal opined: “The interim order of the Sikkim High Court will have effect through out the territory of India where the Rules are applicable.”
To arrive at this opinion, the Advocate General referred to the Supreme Court ruling in Kusum Ingots and Alloys Ltd versus Union of India (2004) in which the territorial scope of the High Court order questioning the constitutionality of a parliamentary Act had been settled.
According to official documents HT has accessed, the Principal Secretary (Finance) on April 15 had written a note stating, “This is an important issue not only having revenue implications for the state government, but it is also an important constitutional issue regarding the respective powers of Central Government and state governments in a federal polity.”
The Principal Secretary (Finance) had suggested seeking the AG’s opinion, pointing out that the Sikkim High Court was not the jurisdictional High Court and “it may also need to be examined whether this stay order would automatically render the impugned new rules inoperative in Punjab and elsewhere”.
However, in his note, the Finance Minister had agreed with the earlier opinion one Additional Advocate General had given. “In order to avoid a daily revenue loss of Rs 47 lakh to the state, we may go ahead and re-start (double digit lottery) from April 20,” Manpreet wrote.
On Monday, he sent the file to the Advocate General seeking his opinion.