After row, Singhvi to withdraw from Kerala lottery case

AICC spokesman Abhishek Singhvi announced his decision to withdraw from the lottery case in Kerala after his appearance in the court on behalf of promoters of lotteries from outside the state created a storm in Congress.

Updated: Sep 30, 2010, 17:37 PM IST

New Delhi: AICC spokesman Abhishek Singhvi
on Thursday announced his decision to withdraw from the lottery case
in Kerala after his appearance in the court on behalf of
promoters of lotteries from outside the state created a storm
in the Congress there.

"There was never any intention to have any conflict of
interest. However, to avoid any communication gap or
controversy, I have decided not to appear in the Kerala
lottery case," the eminent lawyer said from Kochi.

Noting that he was appearing for the Government of Bhutan
in support of a Central government enactment and regulation of
2010, he said he has, however, decided to withdraw.

His decision came a day after Congress in Kerala faced
embarrassment over his appearance in the High Court for
promoters of lotteries from outside the state at a time when
the party is engaged in a bitter battle against the LDF
government over the issue.

While the LDF had seized it as a weapon to strike back at
the Congress, embittered Youth Congress workers staged a
protest against Singhvi in Kochi, saying his appearance in the
case amounted to an "insult" to the party in the state.

The two rival Fronts in Kerala have been engaged in a
wordy duel over the lottery issue in the last few months. The
UDF has taken it up as one of the major issues against LDF in
its campaign for civic polls next month.

Earlier in the day, the senior advocate had continued his
arguments in the court and had even said there was no question
of backtracking from the case.

He had said his appearance in the case for Bhutan
government has nothing to do with politics. "It is purely an
abstract legal challenge. Nobody has to teach me Congress
values and issues. I have always been a loyal Congress
worker," he had told reporters in Kochi.

The state government has maintained that it is upto the
Central government to curtail other state lotteries.

As the lottery issue emerged into a big row, LDF
government stopped accepting tax advance from promoters of
Bhutan and Sikkim lotteries, citing violation of rules,
resulting in virtual stoppage of sale of other state lottery
tickets.

Singhvi appeared before a Division bench, comprising
Justice Thothathil B Radhakrishnan and Justice P Bhavadasan,
on an appeal filed by the Bhutan government against a single
judge order permitting draw only once a week.

The Congress leader argued that Megha distributors are
the promoters of Bhutan lotteries. The state government
informed the court that an enquiry by commercial taxes
department found that there was no conclusive proof to show
Megha distributors are promoters of Bhutan lotteries.

In another case, challenging the validity of the new
lottery ordinance, state government sought more time to file
counter. The case has been posted to November 3.

Meanwhile, six Youth Congress activists, who waved black
flags at Singhvi as he came out of the high court premises
yesterday, were taken into custody today and later released,
police said.

Senior Congress leaders Oommen Chandy and Ramesh
Chennithala said they have informed the Congress high command
about their protest regarding Singhvi`s appearance in court in
the lottery case.

AICC leader in charge of Kerala, Mohsina Kidwai, has also
been informed about the feelings of the state Congress, Chandy
said, adding it was not a right move on Singhvi`s part.

"We stand by our complaint and are confident that the
high command will take appropriate decision in the matter," he
said.

Continuing their attack against the Congress, State
Finance Minister Thomas Issac said the real motive behind
UDF`s false campaign against the government has come out.

Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan alleged that Singhvi
had appeared in court yesterday and today only after getting
Congress president Sonia Gandhi`s approval.

PTI