Online games

Hc cancels the law prohibiting online games | Bangalore News

Vasantha Kumar
Bengaluru: Much to the relief of online gambling operators, the Karnataka High Court on Monday struck down several provisions of the Karnataka Police (Amendment) Act 2021 which sought to regulate online gambling activities.

Allowing petitions filed by the All India Gaming Federation and others, the court declared that the provisions of the Karnataka Police (Amendment) Act 2021 were ultra vires (beyond the powers) of the Indian Constitution in their entirety.
“In the considered opinion of this court, the impugned legislative action which imposed an absolute embargo on all games of skill defies the principle of proportionality and is of a grossly excessive nature and therefore violates section 14 of the Constitution at ground of ‘manifest arbitrariness’,” a divisional bench consisting of Chief Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi and Justice Krishna S Dixit said in its order.
The bench noted that the consequences of striking down the provisions of the Purpose of the Amendment Act should follow and added that nothing in this judgment should be construed to prevent the passage of appropriate legislation on ` ‘bets and games’, in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution.
An instruction was also given to the authorities, preventing them from interfering with the online gambling and related activities of the petitioners.
“When a law is obscure or admits plural meanings with little choice for an ordinary citizen, there is absolute intractability of the language used. They function as laws of violence on sensible citizens since they do not allow them to live in safety under the rule of law,” the bench said in its 123-page order.
“The Amendment Act suffers from such an infirmity in that Section 2(7) which encompasses all games regardless of skill involved, makes the charging provisions enacted in Section 176 read with articles 79 and 80 of the principal law so vague that the men of common understanding will not be able to divine its true meaning and will differ as to the scope of its application and, therefore, are liable to be annulled” , observed the bench.
The bench pointed out that the amended definition of “game” under Article 2(7) insofar as it does not admit the difference between games of skill and games of chance is an indirect contradiction with the modified article 176, which intends to maintain such a difference.
“The very definition of “gambling” as amended, suffers from the defect of the exhaustiveness / too broad of the idea of ​​gambling as it is enacted in the taxation provisions of the law which are animated by the Chamarbaugwala case law (SC judgment of 1957). The content of “gaming” as summarized in Article 2(7) thus breaks the legislative intent enacted in Article 176 ab inceptio and subsequent to the amendment, to protect a class of citizens who gamble games of skill and, therefore, falls within the text and context of this provision,” the bench noted in the order.
“In the Indian epic ‘Mahabharat’ King Yudhistira plays his kingdom, his brothers, his wife Draupadi and finally himself to his cousins ​​i.e. Kauravas and they all go to the woods Yaajnavalkya Smriti has a verse which states that the son should not pay the paternal debt which has been incurred for the purpose of alcohol, lust or gambling. Kaatyaayana Smriti states that gambling, if it cannot be arrested in the kingdom, must be discouraged by imposing a tax. Manusmriti orders the king to exclude gambling and betting from his kingdom since these two vices can cause the destruction of the kingdom; a wise man should not practice them even for fun. Arthashastra’s Kautilya treats all players as cheaters and therefore suggests harsh punishment. Thiruvalluvar’s ‘Tirukkural’ speaks out against gambling,” reads the judgment.
The Karnataka Police Amendment Act was notified and came into force on October 5, 2021. The petitioners had challenged the inclusion of online and skill games, instruments such as computers, systems and resources and virtual platforms within the scope of the law as well as Sections 78, 87 and 128A (all penal clauses) of the Karnataka Police Act.


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