Karnataka police act to clamp down gamblingDate: 29 September 2021 Tags: Bills & Laws
A bill has been passed by the Karnataka legislature to amend the Karnataka Police Act, 1963 that bans all forms of gambling in the state, including online gambling.
A similar law passed by the Tamil Nadu legislature was struck down by the Madras High Court this August as being ultra vires.
The law will ban gambling gaming through the Internet, mobile apps. It aims to make gambling a cognisable and non-bailable offence.
Reasons for the bill
The government’s decision stems from a Dharwad High Court Bench order of December 2019 that makes necessary for police to get magistrate order before raiding gambling dens.
Since gambling was a bailable and non-cognisable offence, the judiciary gave guidelines to the police and magistrates to follow when a non-cognisable offence is taken up.
The jurisdictional magistrate has to give permission for police to investigate non-cognisible offence and SHO of police station has no independent authority of law.
The court had asked for government’s stand in response to various public interest litigations seeking a ban on online gaming and betting.
The modifications have also included digital gambling through cyber space as an offence. Use of devices defined in the Information Technology Act 2000 to indulge in online gambling will also be treated as an offence.
The new law provides exception only to the playing of any pure game of skill. There is also an exception of horse races and lotteries.
Owners of betting or gambling centres will face a maximum punishment of one year to three years of imprisonment and fines from Rs 1000 to Rs 1 lakh.
The minimum punishment prescribed is six months instead of the current one month and a fine of Rs 10,000 instead of Rs 500.
For the first offence minimum sentence of six months in prison and a fine of Rs 10,000 will be imposed.
For a second offence imprisonment for a year and fine of Rs 15,000 will be imposed. A third offence will enable an imprisonment of 18 months and a fine of Rs 20,000.
Gaming industry representatives have asked for regulation instead of complete ban. A comprehensive framework is the need of the hour.