Dream11 suspends Karnataka operations, lawyer says amended law misclassifies skill game

With Dream11 suspends operations in Karnataka after its directors are convicted under the amended Karnataka Police Act, which seeks to ban online gambling, it is likely that the amended law will soon be challenged in court. On Sunday, the online fantasy sports platform said “in order to allay the concerns of our users, we have decided to suspend operations in Karnataka”, adding that “this decision is without prejudice to our rights and claims under of the law”.

Supreme Court attorney and Indian Fantasy Sports Federation (FIFS) adviser Gopal Jain on Sunday said the law amending the Karnataka Police Act can be challenged through a lawsuit in the High Court of Karnataka because it is ultra vires – being contrary to the judgments of the Supreme Court on article 19 (1) (g) relating to the right to undertake, and article 14 because it is manifestly arbitrary.

“First, it misclassifies a game of skill with other categories to which it does not belong. Second, if a complaint or FIR has been registered, you can go to the High Court to quash it because no offense is established, ”he told The Indian Express.

The Karnataka Police (Amendment) Act, 2021, which obtained the Governor’s assent on October 4, reads the words “Gambling means and includes online gambling, involving all forms of betting or wagering, including under the form of tokens valued in terms of money paid before or after its issue, or by electronic means and virtual currency, electronic transfer of funds in connection with any game of chance… ”

Jain countered by saying that a law whose scope is limited to things that affect public order cannot be extended to change the context of something that has gained judicial recognition.

Shortly after the law came into force, some of the gaming platforms, including Mobile Premier League (MPL), began to block access to users of the Karnataka geolocation. Dream11 decided to do so this Sunday, after a lawsuit was filed against its directors Harsh Jain and Bhavit Sheth.

Speaking to The Indian Express, Deputy Police Commissioner (West) Sanjeev M Patil said a case has been registered under Articles 79 and 80 of the Karnataka Police Act. “We cannot divulge any information because the investigation is ongoing,” he added.

Elaborating on the legal basis of his arguments against the call for online fantasy sports gambling, Jain said: “Online fantasy sports have been recognized by several high courts and the Supreme Court as a game of skill, which has right to the protection of the Constitution under Article 19 (1) (g). “He said the format of online fantasy sports was also considered correct by Punjab and Haryana as well as by high courts of Rajasthan.

Last July, the Rajasthan High Court ruled that “offering fantastic sports online in accordance with the FIFS Charter has already been legally recognized as a business and, therefore, is entitled to protection under the FIFS Charter. ‘Article 19 (1) (g) of the Constitution… “

Rejecting a request for special authorization filed on this order, the Supreme Court declared on July 30, 2021 that “this case is no longer res integra”, where it must be examined.

Jain also claimed that the jackpot used to reward winners is legally recognized under the Transfer of Ownership Act and the Finance Act.

Asking when will we have any clarification on this issue, Jain added, “When the courts have recognized it, where it’s fundamentally different, they’ve gone to the hilt and looked at it, so it’s up to the courts. governments to respect court judgments.

On why Dream Sports called Bengaluru resident Manjunath’s Oct. 7 complaint “substantiated,” Jain said there was no mention of “injury caused” to the complainant and that the complainant’s number was no. is not verified for the KYC process as part of the Dream11 game.

“In addition, he names Sporta Technology Ltd, which is the name of the company known to very few people as you go by the brand under which it is known,” he said, describing the complaint as “vexatious. and frivolous “given its schedule – the IPL is in its final stages.

“Karnataka was the state where the start-up ecosystem started. Look at the message they send: that we are going to attack innovation, investment, ban user-friendly technology platforms. It strikes at the very heart of the startup ecosystem, ”Jain said.

Citing how this also goes against the central government’s position to decriminalize the law, the lawyer said: “It is exactly the opposite… trying to criminalize something that the courts have considered legitimate. You cannot ban or ban something that is constitutionally protected, it must always be regulated. “

He said this self-regulation in this segment is done through FIFS, which has a charter and format reviewed by two High Courts. “You cannot transform a game of skill into a game of chance by drawing, you have to have a source of power, and you can exercise it in the domain that is given to us.”

“Future businesses, which attract investment, foster innovation and create jobs, need to be recognized and protected,” Jain said. “When we say that we are in a regime of ease of doing business, and maximum governance and less government, decisions have to be made with much more foresight, not myopia. You have to create a favorable and supportive framework for this, because it is part of a larger public policy objective. “

About the author