Owner also liable for punishment for illegal gambling activities: Karnataka High Court

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According to a recent ruling by the Karnataka High Court, in addition to the individual who is actually caught conducting matka and gambling operations, the “owner” is also punishable under section 78(3) of the Karnataka Police Act.

Justice K Natarajan refused to end the proceedings of the case against Ramanji, who was operating matka. The judge further stated that the absence of independent witnesses from the police chargesheet was not sufficient to halt criminal proceedings.

Ramanji contested the FIR and chargesheet, arguing that because he was not present at the scene, he was not liable for prosecution under Section 78(3).

He added that the police could not have filed a chargesheet without issuing a formal inquiry notice in accordance with section 41 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. He asserted that the “inadmissible” voluntary statement of Narasimha was the basis for the chargesheet being submitted.

Justice K Natarajan pointed out that under section 78(1) as well as section 78(1)(b), the owner, occupier and other person is also liable for punishment. Ramanji argued that he was not present but the judge said that the co-accused, Narasimha, told that he was giving money to Ramanji.

Justice Natarajan said, “Of course, it may be based on the voluntary statement. But is the statement admissible or not admissible when appreciation of evidence is considered during the trial. It cannot be a ground for quashing the charge sheet.”

Ramanji was arrested during a raid on 27 September 2021. Pavagada police booked him from Shanthinagar area of Pavagada town in Tumakuru. Narasimha, a co-accused, was also caught playing matka and was assuring people a profit of Rs 70 by investing Re 1.

The police received confirmation from the magistrate as it was a non-cognizable offence. After an extensive six-day investigation, the police filed a chargesheet against Ramanji.