The Karnataka HC (High Court), on 22nd October ordered the state police not to make any arrests under the new gambling law introduced in the state. The new gambling law, which was passed by the Karnataka legislative assembly last month has faced severe backlash and legal opposition from online gaming firms.
During the same time last month, the Karnataka legislative assembly passed the Karnataka Police (Amendment) Bill, 1963 via voice vote. According to the bill, offenders will be fined up to ₹1 Lakh and can face imprisonment for a term of up to three years. The law had banned all variations of online gaming involving the transfer of money.
After the bill was passed, the Karnataka Police had filed an FIR against Dream11 cofounders Harsh Jain and Bhavit Sheth for continuing operations on its platform, earlier this month. It was the first case lodged under the new law. Reportedly, a similar case was filed against the online rummy platform SilkRummy.
Following the FIR, six online gaming firms including Mobile Premier League (MPL), Games24x7, A23(Ace2Three), Junglee Games and Gameskraft along with the All India Gaming Federation (AIGF) challenged the law by moving to the High Court in this regard. The petition filed, questioned the constitutional validity of laws included in the Karnataka Police (Amendment) Act.
Advocate Arvind P Datar, who appeared before the court for the AIGF and the other gaming firms, told the court that similar law passed by Tamil Nadu was struck down by the Madras High Court. The Madras HC had stated that games of skill cannot be banned as a game of wager while striking down the law. Datar further argued that the new amendments do not fall in the scope of ‘gambling and betting’ under Entry 34 of the state list according to the constitutions. He also said that states do not have the power to ban online skill-based games.
Datar requested the single-judge bench of Justice Krishna S Dixit that no arrests should be made under the law as the law included provisions for arrests and FIRs. The request was accepted by Dixit, who ordered the Advocate General appearing for the state, not to make any arrests under the law. The petitions filed by the six firms will be bunched together and the case will be heard on 27th October 2021.
Amarylisa Gonsalves is a Content Writer at Gutshot Magazine. Advancing from a marketing background, she found her calling in writing. She takes delight in exploring genres and is a curious learner. Patient and ambivert, she believes in letting her work speak for itself. Apart from content writing, she finds solace in writing poetry by manifesting herself through words. Additionally, she adores indulging in drawing and DIY crafts.
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