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Backdoor efforts alleged to operate lottery in state

State wants pending dues, firm files case for over Rs 25 cr

SHILLONG: The state government officials are allegedly exploring a backdoor entry to facilitate a lottery firm with whom the government had executed an agreement in 2005 to run lottery in the state.
Sources said the agreement was signed by the government with M/s NV International in 2005 and the latter was appointed as the distributor of paper lotteries.
Curiously, the agreement that was never made public by the government in 2005 was after the government failed to get the dues of several crores of rupees for running online lottery by another firm, MS Associates, owned by Congress leader and former Assam MP Mani Kumar Subba.
The public was only aware of the lottery agreement with MS Associates but the deal with NV International was never known.
As there were problems in running lottery, the state government had sent reminders to NV International.
The matter was pointed out to Chief Minister Conrad Sangma by another lottery firm M/s Pooja Fortune Private Limited in a letter addressed to Sangma recently.
The original tenure of the agreement made with NV International was for three years from the date of the first draw or within a period of 90 days from the date of signing the agreement, whichever is earlier. However, after execution of the agreement, M/s NV International did not follow the various clauses of the agreement, according to the letters addressed to the firm by the government.
Following this, in 2006, the director of Meghalaya State Lottery issued a showcause notice to NV International stating that it had violated the various clauses incorporated in the agreement on February 23, 2005.
Later, on July 10, 2007, the director of Meghalaya State Lottery wrote to the firm asking it to arrange for payment of dues worth Rs 2,27,75,600.
Again on July 16, 2008, the director wrote to the firm stating that the payable amount as on that day was Rs 4,43,44,800.
However, NV International did not clear the dues and instead on November 18, 2010, filed a money suit against the state government before the court of Assistant to Deputy Commissioner, Shillong.
The amount claimed was Rs 25,88,00,000 and the same was registered and numbered as Money Suit Case No.66 (T) of 2012.
When the matter was pending, the director on November 30, 2017, had issued a Notice Inviting Tender (NIT) for appointment of distributors of Meghalaya State Lotteries for both paper and online formats. Being aggrieved by certain clauses contained in the NIT, M/s Pooja Fortune Private Limited and two other firms challenged its legality by means of separate writ petitions. The NIT was later withdrawn by the government and the petitions were closed.
According to Pooja Fortune Private Limited, since the NIT was closed it had expected a fresh transparent process seeking wider participation from bidders for appointment as distributor of Meghalaya State Lotteries.
However, Pooja Fortune Private Limited in the letter to the chief minister alleged that it came to know from reliable sources that backdoor negotiations were going on to appoint NV International as a distributor of Meghalaya State Lotteries, and excluding other parties in the market.
The letter, a copy of which was also addressed to the chief secretary, said the backdoor negotiations will negate the objective for which the Lotteries Regulation) Act, 1998, was enacted.
The firm also asked the chief minister to direct state officials to desist from conducting any backdoor negotiations.

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