HC quashes 'unconstitutional' Kerala govt order banning online rummy in state

Online rummy companies submitted that banning the game by amendment to notification under Section 14A of Kerala Gaming Act, 1960 is bad in law as it exempts physical rummy but not online rummy
Kerala High Court (File Photo| A Sanesh, EPS)
Kerala High Court (File Photo| A Sanesh, EPS)

KOCHI: The Kerala High Court on Monday set aside an amendment to a notification issued by the government of Kerala under Section 14A of the Kerala Gaming Act, 1960, which sought to ban online rummy in the state.

Justice TR Ravi issued the order while allowing the petitions filed by Gameskraft Technologies Private Ltd, Bangalore, a company operating online game platforms and three other companies seeking to quash the notification issued by the state government. The court held that banning online games of skill played for money is arbitrary. Hence the notification banning online rummy is unconstitutional.

Online rummy companies submitted that banning the game by amendment to notification under Section 14A of Kerala Gaming Act, 1960 is bad in law as it exempts physical rummy but not online rummy. Such notification is violative of Articles 14 and 19(1)(g) of the Constitution, they held.  

The government had earlier exempted online rummy games from the provisions of the Kerala Gaming Act. Thus, the government had banned online rummy when played for stakes, even though the game had been judicially held to be a game of skill, the petition said. The company contended that the government had no power to exclude a game that had been previously placed outside the purview of the Act. The notification is ultra vires the Constitution of India.

Citing various judgments of the Supreme Court, the petitioners contended that rummy is primarily a game of skill.

The state government had submitted that there are various cases of suicide reported across the country on playing online rummy which compelled the state to bring measures to ban it.

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