Over the last three months, Bangalore police have shut down hundreds of sports and recreation clubs, but their prosecutors are arguing under an outdated order and losing all cases.
The police have forgotten to tell their advocates under what rule they are acting, as a result of which the court has allowed the clubs to resume business.
The government advocates haven’t looked up the relevant order either.
The charge against the clubs is that they are running without licences, but the High Court has consistently ruled no licences were necessary.
In fact, the government advocates were arguing on the basis of a 2009 order, whose contents favour the clubs, unaware that it had been changed in 2013.
A rule now exists that sports and recreation clubs need licences, but lack of co-ordination between public prosecutors and the police is leading to daily dismissal of cases. In fact, on December 4 alone, the court threw out seven cases.
The Bangalore police are ordering the closure of such clubs every day, but the clubs are challenging the action and successfully resuming business.
A government order dated September 12, 2013, says clubs offering gaming and games of chance need to register themselves either under the Societies Registration Act of 1960 or the Karnataka Co-operative Societies Act of 1959.
According to the order, a copy of which is in possession of Express, “District Magistrates and Police Commissioners are the licensing authorities.... Further, the rules, if any, made for the licensing and controlling of places of public amusement by the District Magistrates and Commissioners of Police shall include ‘clubs’ also.”
The government order says sports and recreation clubs are “indulging in activities like gaming, gambling, betting, and playing game of chance” and thus called for regulation.
In its preamble, the order defines a “place of public amusement” as “any place where music, singing, dancing, or any diversion or game, or the means of carrying on the same, is provided and to which the public are admitted, and includes a race course, circus, theatre, music hall, billiard room, bagatelle room, gymnasium, fencing school, swimming pool or dancing hall.”
The government had issued an order on September 12, 2013, making it mandatory for all clubs to obtain licences.
When Express asked government pleader Vijay Kumar Patil why the police were suffering setbacks, he said, “They have not brought the law to our notice for us to submit before the court.”
He took a copy of the order from this reporter on Wednesday and promised to call the Home Department and police officials to ask why they had not brought it to his notice even after scores of cases had gone in favour of the clubs.
In 2009, a single bench and a division bench had passed orders directing the state government not to insist on licences for clubs where skill-oriented games like rummy, dart, chess, poker, wall ball, and carroms were played.
The government then went ahead and passed a rule making it mandatory for all types of clubs to obtain licences.
Following this September order, police forced the closure of clubs without licences. But the clubs quoted the 2009 order and resumed business. Neither the police nor their advocates brought the more recent order to the notice of the judge.
Kamal Pant, ACP (Law and Order), said he was not aware of the status of the cases.