As per the Times of India, Hotel Ramada in Ahmedabad has filed a petition in the Gujarat High Court seeking an order directing the police to allow peaceful conduct of poker games. A similar petition was filed in the Gujarat HC by Kizhakke Naduvath Suresh of the Indian Poker Association two months ago.
The filed petition was heard by a single judge, Justice CL Soni, who ordered the state government, local police station, and the municipal authorities to file their written replies to the averments made by Hotel Ramada. The hotel’s lawyer, Maulin Pandya, alleged that the police did not respond to the representations made by his client. However, his client was asked over the phone by Anandnagar police station to stop the poker games.
Additionally, Pandya asserted that poker is a game of skill and that there exist legislative and judicial precedents in India as well as other countries such as the U.S.A to bolster his argument. Furthermore, he stated that in Karnataka, West Bengal, Sikkim and Nagaland, the game is allowed to be played freely. After hearing the matter, Justice CL Soni directed the state government, police and municipal authorities to respond to the petition and listed the matter for hearing on 12th January, 2017.
Hotel Ramada’s petition is equivocal. It does not mention whether it wants to offer free poker games for stakes or if it will be taking a rake (commission) for the amount staked. Additionally, for skill games like rummy, the 1967 Supreme Court judgement of State of Andhra Pradesh v. K. Satyanarayana does not make it clear whether clubs can profit from the activity.
This case is the first petition by a hotel seeking an order from the court to allow the game of poker to be played. Generally, recreational non-profit clubs offering card games to members have filed petitions in High Courts seeking an approval from the court to allow peaceful conduct of such games.
Meanwhile, the IPA petition continues to be listed before a different bench comprising of Justice Sonia Gokani. No further substantial hearing has been announced after the October 23rd, 2016 order, where Justice Gokani asked the state government, police and other authorities to file its reply
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