Dream11 co-founders approach Karnataka High Court against FIR under online gaming ban law

Dream11 co-founders Bhavit Sheth and Harsh Jain have moved the Karnataka High Court to quash an FIR filed by Karnataka Police for operating the fantasy platform after the online gaming ban law came into effect on October 5. The writ petition which is yet to receive the final numbering was filed on Friday.

Based on a complaint by a cab driver, the case was registered by Annapoorneshwarinagar Police in the Bengaluru city limits on October 8. The new gaming ban law is currently facing a legal challenge from the industry body All India Gaming Federation (AIGF) and 5 real-money gaming firms MPL, Junglee Games Games24x7, A23(Ace2Three), and Gameskraft. On October 8, G2G News was the first to report that AIGF and three gaming companies have filed writ petitions before the Karnataka High Court.

The petitions by AIGF and MPL came up for hearing on last Friday. Senior Advocate Aravind P. Datar appeared for AIGF before the single judge bench of Justice Krishna S. Dixit. Acceding to the request of Mr Datar, the High Court directed the Advocate General appearing on behalf of the state government not to make arrests under the amendment that is under legal challenge. The next date of hearing is on March 27, Wednesday.

While major gaming platforms including MPL, Junglee Games have blocked access to residents in Karnataka after the new law came into effect, Dream11 continued operations. Relying on a legal opinion obtained by the Federation of Indian Fantasy Sports (FIFS) from the former Supreme Court judge Ashok Bhushan, the gaming unicorn said that the law does not apply to fantasy sports. The opinion stated that fantasy sports operators are the business being protected under Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution of India. However, Dream11 shut operations citing safety concerns of users from the afternoon of October 10.

Over the past year, South Indian states Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Kerala have enacted laws to prohibit gaming for stakes. The Madras High Court had struck down the amendment to Tamil Nadu Gaming Act, 1930 in August while the Kerala High Court quashed the online rummy ban notification in September. Hearing an appeal against an order of the Rajasthan High Court, the Supreme Court in July this year held fantasy sports as a game of skill. A case is currently pending before Andhra Pradesh High Court challenging the law banning skill games for stakes in the State.