Rummy, a popular card game in India and a favourite pastime of many enthusiasts has received a judgment by the Kerala High Court last month. The honourable court ruled, in a case between K Ramachandran, Secretary of Sopanam Arts and Sports Club and Kerala Police, that rummy will only be termed as gambling if it’s played for stakes using real money.
According to a report published on LiveLaw.in, a petition by the secretary was filed in the Kerala HC and on 24th January, complaining against the harassment of Kerala Police for “frequently visiting the club and booking cases against the members of the club for playing rummy.”
The respondent, i.e. the police alleged that playing rummy basically amounts to gambling under Kerala Gaming Act 1960 and hence the raids at the Club. In the 35-page judgment, the court ruled in favour of Ramachandran saying that rummy is a game of skill and playing it as a pastime is not an offence.
Although, the court later added that playing rummy for stakes, using real money, amounts to gambling under existing laws and those who break the law shall be punished accordingly. The bench which passed the judgment consisted of Justice PR Ramachandra Menon and Justice Anil Kumar.
While passing the judgment, the bench cited previous cases like State of Bombay v. R.M.D Chamarbaugwala and another (AIR 1957 SC 699) where the court had held that gambling is not a trade and as such, is not protected by the Constitution, under Article 19(1)(g). It further held that competitions involving substantial skills do not fall under gambling.
The court also cited another past judgment by the Supreme Court, viz. State of Andhra Pradesh v. Satyanarayana (1968 AIR 825), where the apex court held that rummy is a game of skill. However, the court had also held that if evidence is found of club making profit by running rummy, it will be termed as gambling.
“In view of the various decisions of the Apex Court, there cannot be any doubt that playing rummy for stakes within the club premises is an offence, provided the Police conducted search in accordance with Section 5 of the Kerala Act,” ruled the Court.
The Kerala HC further held that it is “left in no doubt that playing rummy for innocent pastime is not an offence and is certainly a game of skill as held in Satyanarayana’s case.” The bench also approved Madras HC’s previous decision in a case which held that playing rummy without real money does not constitute as an offence but would amount to gambling if played for stakes.
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