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An online lottery scam that could land NCP into more trouble

Ashwin Aghor | Updated on: 10 February 2017, 1:50 IST

What\'s the scam about

  • Online lottery scam made Maharashtra lose almost Rs 30,000 crore per year between 2001 to 2009
  • Information on the scam was revealed due to an RTI filed by former IAS officer Anand Kulkarni

What next

  • Information revealed by the RTI implicated former Finance Minister Jayant Patil
  • Patil allegedly turned a blind eye to the scam making the state lose crores

More in the story

  • How was the scam played out
  • Why is this terrible news for the Congress

With almost all its second line leaders are facing serious corruption charges and possible arrest, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) received a another major blow.

A query under Right to Information Act revealed the involvement of NCP's yet another leader in a multi crore online lottery scam.

With the revelation, the party is likely to get deeper into trouble in days to come.

This time the allegations are against former Finance Minister Jayant Patil, who is considered to be one of the non-corrupt members in the party.

After many of its big leaders facing potential arrests in various scams, NCP is most likely to lose yet another second line leader.

Trouble brewing

The NCP is facing serious trouble ever since Chhagan Bhujbal and his nephew were arrested on charges of money laundering. It was the first major blow to the party and it is yet to recover from the shock.

Major leaders like Ajit Pawar and Sunil Tarkare are facing arrest in a multi-crore irrigation scam. Almost all second line leaders are also courting arrests in some case or the other.

The matter came to light when former bureaucrat Anand Kulkarni sought detailed information about a state-owned online lottery.

The information he got under the RTI revealed that the state of Maharashtra had suffered financial losses to the tune of Rs 30,000 crore per year from 2001 to 2009.

Even more shockingly, the inquiry report by the Additional Director General of Police, Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB), which unearthed the scam, was not made public terming it to be confidential.

What the scam was about

Former IAS officer Anand Kulkarni who had sought the information alleges that the then finance minister Jayant Patil turned a blind eye to the irregularity causing huge financial losses to the state exchequer.

Kulkarni has alleged that the inquiry report obtained under RTI has details of the scam and had the government acted in time, the huge losses could have been prevented and the culprits nabbed.

According to the information, the state government invited tenders to operate a state-owned online lottery. There was only one entity, Ms Martin Lottery Agencies Limited, Chennai, that fielded the tender.

When there was no response from any other entity even after extending the deadline twice, the contract was awarded to Ms Martin Lottery Agencies Limited.

The RTI on the online lottery scam was filed by a former IAS officer Anand Kulkarni

"Though claimed to be a two-digit lottery, it is one-digit lottery which is in the violation of The Lottery Act, 1998. When he realised the illegalities, an alert citizen Nanasaheb Kute lodged a complaint with the state government and sought investigation into the matter. The matter was taken up during various sessions of the state Assembly as well, following which the then Home Minister, the late RR Patil, ordered an inquiry," Kulkarni said.

As per the order, the then Additional DGP, ACB SPS Yadav conducted the inquiry and submitted he report to the Home Ministry in 2007.

What did the report say

The report said that though it is mandatory for the contractor to have the server of online lottery in Maharashtra, Ms Martin Lottery Agencies Limited had its server in Tamil Nadu. "The contractor, in connivance with the officials at the Directorate of Lottery, government of Maharashtra manipulated the rules there by causing huge financial losses to the government," Kulkarni said.

The draws were announced from the server in Tamil Nadu, he added.

Kulkarni has alleged that Jayant Patil was aware of the irregularities but preferred to turn a blind eye instead of acting on the inquiry report by the ACB.

Kulkarni has now filed a complaint with the Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and demanded legal action against the culprits.

The report submitted by SPS Yadav clearly mentions that the senior bureaucrats posted at the Directorate of Lottery, in gross misuse of office, facilitated the scam which caused financial losses to the state to the tune of Rs 30,000 crore per year.

Meanwhile, Jayant Patil has issued a clarification on the online lottery scam and denied of any wrong doing in the allotment of contract in the online lottery.

First published: 16 June 2016, 8:45 IST
Ashwin Aghor @CatchNews

Journalist based in Mumbai.