FIFS joins as petitioner, Karnataka HC hearing on online gaming ban law to continue on Dec 14

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A special bench of the Karnataka High Court comprising of Chief Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi and Justice Krishna S Dixit conducted another hearing of the petitions challenging the online gaming ban notified on October 5. Senior Advocate Gopal Jain mentioned the petition filed by the Federation of Online Fantasy Sports. “If you have filed it we will call for the file today itself,” the Chief Justice said. In the earlier hearing, the Advocate General argued that game of skill loses its nature once the public at large are invited.

Advocate Sridhar Prabhu appeared for the intervener, DR Sharada. Initially, the bench said there is no requirement for the intervener. “We feel there is no necessity to allow intervention. The state is competitive to defend its legislation,” CJ said. However, the bench later agreed for the intervener to make his submissions.

Mr. Prabhu said the members of AIGF are not ascertainable and the petition by AIGF is not maintainable. “Kindly see the rules and regulations of the organizations. They are a society. Kindly see their objective. There is no mention that they can espouse the cause of their members,” Mr. Prabhu said. The bench appeared not convinced with the argument and asked the lawyer to proceed to the next proposition.

Mr. Prabhu took the grounds of public order for which the bench said the same point has been argued by the Advocate General. Mr. Prabhu largely argued on the similar points which were raised by AG in the earlier hearings.

Senior advocate Dr. Abhishek Manu Singhvi began arguments after Mr. Prabhu. Dr. Singhvi said the jurisprudence is developed in the matter over 70 years and the respondents are now proposing a new test. Dr. Singhvi argued that the respondents cannot claim public order, law and order as the same argument can be used for any law. “How can you bring in entry 1 and 2 for games of chess?

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He contended that a fundamental right under 19 (1) (g) would require something extraordinary to completely extinguish it. He said that for public order one must demonstrate on affidavit public disorder referring to Supreme Court judgement in case of Banka Sneha Sheela vs The State Of Telangana.

On the affidavit filed by the respondents on crimes due to online gaming, Dr. Singhvi said there is no attempt to show a correlation. He said it is a common practice of respondents to deploy scare arguments. As Singhvi tried to recall the Latin phrase, Justice Dixit said the phrase is “argumentum terrorem”

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Dr. Singhvi said most of the arguments by respondents are aberrations or scare arguments. At this point, the High Court interjected and said “Dr Singhvi will you continue your arguments?” With this the arguments got concluded for the day.

In the end, senior advocate Mukul Rohtagi mentioned the matter filed by FIFS for which the bench said they will hear him on the next date. Senior advocate CA Sundaram interjected to let him argue after Singhvi for the sake of continuity. The matter will now be heard on December 14.