The year 2019 was challenging for the gaming industry with multiple issues springing up and questioning the workings of fantasy sports and poker. Gaming giant Dream11 has been under the legal eye for almost a year now. Last year in April, the Bombay High Court had turned down the petition filed by Advocate Gurdeep Singh Sachar claiming that the company comprises of a game of chance and gambling and involved in GST evasion.
Supreme Court bench of Justice Rohinton F. Nariman and S. Ravindra Bhat on Friday dismissed the clarification application filed by the Sachar which urged the apex court to allow the issue of whether the fantasy games provided by Dream11 amounts for betting or gambling can be reviewed in the Bombay High Court for the purpose of determining whether there is any GST evasion of Dream11’s part.
The bench heard the arguments put forward by the senior advocate of Sachar’s counsel, Mahabir Singh who insisted that the clarification be allowed as the issue of gambling and betting is connected to the manner of payment of GST while Mukul Rohatgi, a former Attorney General of India and Senior Counsel who was representing Dream11 opposed the application and Senior advocate K. Radhakrishnan, the counsel representing the central government.
While dismissing Sachar’s application, the Supreme Court noted, ‘It is reiterated that in accordance with our order dated 13.12.2019, the only scope of the review filed in the Bombay High Court is with respect to GST and not to revisit the issue as to whether gambling is or is not involved.’
Originally, Sachar had filed a PIL in the Bombay HC in April 2019 alleging that Dream11 conducts gambling operations and wrongly pays GST at the rate of 18% instead of 28% on the face value of bets under Rule 31A of the Central GST Tax Rules, 2017.
On 30 April 2019, a division bench of Bombay HC comprising of Justice Ranjit More and Bharati Dangre had dismissed Sachar’s petition and ruled in favour of Dream11. Sachar as well as Union of India, State of Maharashtra and activists Varun Gumber and Avinash Mehrotra had filed appeals against the order of Bombay HC. The Supreme Court dismissed Gumber’s petition and central government, Sachar and Mehrotra’s pleas.
The central government’s review petition was heard on 28 January but its claim on the GST issue did not find much favour with the bench comprising of More and SP Tavade. The matter is now scheduled for hearing in the Bombay HC on 11 February. For the latest updates on poker news and industry, keep reading GutshotMagazine.com and stay tuned!
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