SC Issues Notice Against Plea Filed Challenging Decision of Madras HC Over Striking Down Ban on Online Rummy, Poker Etc.

Supreme Court Law Insider

Aastha Thakur

Published on: September 9, 2022 at 21:44 IST

The High Court of Madras’ decision to overturn the prohibition on internet games like rummy and poker was challenged in court, and a bench of the Supreme Court comprising of Justices Aniruddha Bose and Vikram Nath gave notice of the case on Friday.

The High Court of Madras’ decision to invalidate the Tamil Nadu Gaming and Police Laws (Amendment) Act of 2021 was the subject of a petition filed by the State of Tamil Nadu on August 3, 2021. Online poker and other games with real money stakes were prohibited under the Act.

It was observed that betting in actual can’t be distinguish from gambling as the element involved is betting.

The Court opined that, “Gambling and gaming have developed secondary meanings in judicial parlance. Indeed, such words had attained such connotations in the pre constitutional era that nomen juris cannot be shrugged off to understand such words to mean or imply anything other than how they have been judicially interpreted.”

“Irrespective of what meanings are ascribed to these words in dictionaries, gambling is equated with gaming and the activity involves chance to such a predominant extent that the element of skill that may also be involved cannot control the outcome.”

The bench led by Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee of Madras HC strike down the amended Act of 1930 stating that legislature had done something without applying rational and adequate principle leading to such disproportionate act, as the game of betting and wagering even due to involvement of skills under Section 3(b) of the Act becomes an offence.

The Court observed that, “Despite no offence under Section 4(1) of the Act of 1930 being made out for playing or participating in a game of skill, if any betting and wagering – within the meaning of such expression as indicated in the Explanation to Section 3(b) of the Act – is involved in a game of skill, by virtue of Sections 8 and 9 of the Act an offence is made out of the same activity.”

“As a result, a simple game of football or volleyball played for bragging rights between two teams or a tournament which awards any cash prize or even a trophy, would, by the legal fiction created by the definition, amount to gaming and thereby outlawed.”

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