Dream11 competitors operating game of chance, FIR filed by business adversaries: Bhavit Sheth in Karnataka HC [Exclusive]

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Dream11 founders Bhavit Sheth and Harsh Jain have alleged that the First Information Report (FIR) filed against them for violating the new anti-gambling law in the state of Karnataka has been filed with a mala fide intent to curtail the legitimate business activities of the company. The law was notified on October 5.

Sheth in his writ petition seeking quashing of the FIR filed against the company and its founders by the Annaporneshwari Nagar Police Station in Bengaluru on 7th October 2021 has noted that no ingredients of offence are made out for offences under the amended provisions of the Karnataka Police Act, 1963 as alleged by cab driver Manjunath.

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The petition also notes various judgments of the Supreme Court on games of skill enjoying the right to trade and commerce under Article 19(1)(g) of the constitution as well as judgments of Punjab & Haryana, Rajasthan, and Bombay High Courts ruling fantasy sports to be a game of skill and enjoying constitutional protection.

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Interestingly the petition also indirectly alludes to the fact that other online gaming operators who shut operations in Karnataka and prohibited accepting players from the state are engaged in ‘games of chances.’

Sheth also alleges that he has every reason to believe that the FIR has been filed by the police at the behest of its business adversaries

However, with a vested and mala fide interest of curtailing the legitimate business activities and maligning the image and reputation of the company, the petitioners have every reason to believe that the impugned case has been registered by the respondent police at the behest and instance of its business adversaries who are compelled to stop their activities with the mala fide intention of brushing the colour of gambling, betting and wagering to the activities of fantasy sports carried on the Dream 11 platform.

Para 31 of the petition

The petitioner also states that although the complainant Manjunath in his complaint has stated that he searched Dream11 app to be available on Google Playstore, the Dream11 app has never been available on the Google Playstore. Thus, it is stated that the complaint by cab driver Manjunath is smeared by mala fides as he has not even conducted a basic preliminary inquiry before filing the complaint.

Ultimately, based on the judgments and evidence relied upon in the petition, Sheth and Jain have sought quashing of the FIR filed against them by the Annapoorneshwari Nagar police station. They have further sought interim relief of staying the proceedings against the company and founders as well as directing the police to not take any coercive action against them.

The matter is expected to come up for hearing before a single-judge bench of the Karnataka High Court later this week.