Recently, the Karnataka High Court in the case of ‘All Indian Gaming Federation v. State of Karnataka, Writ Petition (Civil) No. 18703 of 2021’ struck down certain amendments to the Karnataka Police Act, 1963, introduced vide the Amendment Act, which prohibited and criminalized all online games including the ‘game of skill’.
The Amendment Act inter alia had introduced expansive definitions of several terms including ‘gaming’, ‘wagering or betting’, ‘instruments of gaming’, etc., and sought to ban all games of skill offered through online platforms played with monetary stakes or otherwise.
The Karnataka High Court in its analysis reiterated that the state lacks the legislative competence under entry 34 list II schedule VII of the Indian constitution on the grounds of fact that ‘games of skill” when played even with monetary stakes are distinct from ‘games of chance’. The Karnataka High Court also observed that ‘games of skill’ have been judicially upheld in the case of ‘State of Bombay v. RMD Chamarbaugwala’ as business activities protected under Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution of India.
Accordingly, the Karnataka High Court held that the relevant provisions of the Amendment Act are violative of (i) Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution of India for banning ‘games of skill’; and (ii) Article 14 of the Constitution of India for treating ‘games of skill’ and ‘games of chance’ similarly.
Further, the Karnataka High Court observed that the Amendment Act places an absolute embargo on ‘games of skill’ involving money or stakes, which defies the principle of proportionality and is too excessive in nature. Therefore, violative of Article 14 of the Constitution of India on the ground of ‘manifest arbitrariness’.
In the view of the above, the Karnataka High Court struck down certain amendments which prohibited and criminalized all online games including the ‘games of skill’.
Please click here to read the judgement