Karnataka govt’s appeal against HC order on online skill games law listed before SC tomorrow

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The Karnataka government’s appeal before the Supreme Court against the 14th February State High Court order that struck down gaming ban law enacted in 2021 as unconstitutional will be heard tomorrow, 16 September. The case status on the Supreme Court website shows the matter to be listed before a bench comprising of Justices Abdul Nazeer and V. Ramasubramanian.

The Karnataka High Court in February struck down the amendments to the Karnataka Police Act, 1963 which banned online games including online rummy and online poker with stakes. The state government promptly filed an appeal with the Supreme Court.

Last week, another bench of the Supreme Court issued notices in an appeal filed by Tamil Nadu government against a similar decision by Madras High Court quashing a similar gaming ban law. The two similar appeals may be clubbed and heard together ultimately.

In a related development, activist Varun Gumber’s review petition challenging the dismissal of appeal by SC against 2017 Punjab & Haryana HC judgment ruling fantasy sports to be a game of skill is likely to be heard along with Karnataka appeal. By an order dated 28th April, 2022, a bench of then CJI NV Ramana and Justice SK Kaul had directed the registry to list the matter before an appropriate bench.

While Karnataka is not acting to enact another law, the Tamil Nadu government is moving at fast pace to enact another law irrespective of the outcome in the pending appeal.

The Tamil Nadu government in this regard had constituted a committee headed by retired Madras High Court judge K Chandru in June to analyse the impact caused by online gaming/gambling sites. The committee submitted a report on June 27 in favour of a ban. Subsequently, there were complaints from online gaming companies and also the public that their views were not taken into account.