The Maharashtra government on Monday agreed to transfer probe of untraceable lottery companies that had defaulted on taxes of Rs933 crore to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) after two months, but indicated that there was unlikely to be any probe into allegations made against former finance minister and senior NCP leader Jayant Patil in the case.
State finance minister Sudhir Mungantiwar said the economic offences wing (EOW) is probing the matter and if it failed to complete it in the next two months, the case would handed over to the CBI.
Significantly, Mungantiwar not only ignored the issue of allegations made against former finance minister Jayant Patil by retired IAS officer Anand Kulkarni for online lottery scam but also said there was no need to pay attention to those allegations.
Six companies — Swagat Agency, Samarpan Trading, Camelot Gaming Solutions, Jupiter Gaming, SL Marketing and Shweta Enterprises had defaulted on taxes worth Rs933 crore between 2007 and 2009 for running online lottery in the state. Since then the state government is unsuccessfully trying to trace them for recovery.
The issue was raised during question hour by Congress legislators Amrish Patel, Sanjay Dutt and others. Congress legislator Bhai Jagtap demanded CBI probe in the matter. The legislators even demanded the state government to restart its own online lottery that was closed down some years back.
Replying to the questions, Mungantiwar said, “The EOW is investigating the case. We have given them a two-month deadline. If they could not complete the probe in the given time then we are ready to hand it over to the CBI.”
On restarting online lottery of the state, the finance minister said around 1.5 lakh lottery vendors had demanded permission to start online lottery. “The state government is seriously deliberating the demand. We will also consult political parties and NGOs active in the social sector to get an idea on social impact of the decision and then take the decision,” Mungantiwar told the Upper House.
Later, Shiv Sena legislator raised the issue of allegations for online lottery scam against NCP leader to which Mungantiwar said, “After retirement, Kulkarni has become an ordinary citizen and ordinary citizens can make any allegations. How much the government can give attention to such allegations?”
Kulkarni last month had alleged irregularities in online lottery operations involving senior Jayant Patil and a former bureaucrat Kavita Gupta claiming loss of hundreds of crores to the state exchequer. The allegations were made on the basis of a confidential CID report.
Reacting to the objection taken by PWP legislator Jayant Patil on the allegations against former finance minister, Mungantiwar added that the government is also ready to discuss amendment in the law to restrain people from making baseless allegations against public representatives.