Andar Bahar – a game of skill; Karnataka High Court quashes FIR

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The Karnataka High Court has recently quashed an FIR registered against eight accused of gambling by playing a card game ‘andar bahar’ in a hotel in Mangalore in 2010.  The accused were booked under Sections 79 and 80 of the Karnataka Police Act,1963.  Earlier, the trial court had convicted the accused for gambling and the appellate court had subsequently confirmed the order.

As per the facts, the eight accused were caught playing the cards game ‘andar bahar’ in a raid by the then ACP, Mangalore. The accused were sentenced to simple imprisonment of three months under Section 79 and one month under Section 80 of the Karnataka Police Act. The accused preferred an appeal against these orders.

Disposing of the appeal in this background, a single judge bench of the Karnataka High Court relied on co-ordinate bench decisions to hold that ‘andar-bahar’ as a game of skill. The Court specifically referred to the case of Chickarangappa & Others Vs. State of Mysore [1971(2) Mys. L.J. 187] and 1977 (1) K.L.J. 274, where the Court has categorically held that the game of ‘Andar Bahar’ is not a game of chance.

The Court also noted that the offences under Sections 79 and 80 of the Karnataka Police Act are non-cognizable and the investigating officer has not obtained prior permission from the jurisdictional magistrate before registering the First Information Report as required under Section 155 of CrPC. The Court also noted that the police lacked a search warrant to raid the hotel which is a requirement under CrPC.

The High Court finally opined that the trial court and appellate court had not properly appreciated the evidence on record per law and facts and had ignored the provisions of CrPC.

The Court accordingly held that the judgment of conviction and order of sentence passed by the trial court and subsequent confirmation by the appellate court was illegal, capricious, perverse and not sustainable under the law.