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M.J. Sivani and Ors vs State of Karnataka and Ors on 17 April, 1995

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  Supreme Court of IndiaM.J. Sivani And Ors vs State Of Karnataka And Ors on 17 April, 1995Bench: K. Ramaswamy, B.L. Hansaria  CASE NO.:Appeal (civil) 4564 of 1995PETITIONER:M.J. SIVANI AND ORS.RESPONDENT:STATE OF KARNATAKA AND ORS.DATE OF JUDGMENT: 17/04/1995BENCH:K. RAMASWAMY & B.L. HANSARIAJUDGMENT: JUDGMENT 1995(3) SCR 329 The Judgment was delivered by K. RAMASWAMY, J.K. RAMASWAMY, J. -Leave granted in SLPs Nos. 11012 of 1991, 10065-78, 18271-75, 18617-18630, 18316, 22759-22763and 22865-70 of 1994, 675, 2347-53 and 6437-6440 of 1995 and SLP No. ... of 1995 (CC No. 1306)2. These appeals by special leave arise from the Division Bench judgment of the Karnataka HighCourt in Writ Appeals Nos. 1303-23 of 1990 dated 17-9-1990 and of the Madras High Court in WritPetition No. 404 of 1986 and batch dated 28-12-1993. Since common questions of law arise in thesecases, they are disposed of by common judgment3. The primary question is whether video games require to be regulated under the respective MysorePolice Act, 1963 and the notifications issued thereunder and the Madras City Police Act, 1888 andthe orders of the Tamil Nadu Government in GOMs No. 166-0 dated 18-1-1993 and the allied. Whenthe Commissioner of Police, Bangalore, exercising the power under the Licensing and Controlling of Places of Public Amusements (Bangalore City) Order, 1989 (for short Bangalore Order ) calledupon the appellants to obtain licences under that Order, they challenged his power and jurisdictionon diverse grounds. The Single Judge held that video game is a game covered by Bangalore Order,the appellants are required to get licence thereunder to play the video games. It was further heldthat it does not violate their fundamental rights under Articles 19(1)(g) and 21 of the Constitution.The Division Bench upheld the view of the Single Judge Equally, Division Bench of the Madras HighCourt held that the Madras City Police Act and the Order of the Government, placed reasonablerestrictions on the right to carry on video games. It does not violate Articles 19(1)(g) and 21. Videogames are games requiring licence under the Act and the Orders. The survey of working of the videogames by a committee of high- level police officers and a practising advocate who appeared for someof the appellants in the High Court, found the malpractices committed in conducting the games. The video game is a game covered by the Act and the Order. The ban imposed on the named games as M.J. Sivani And Ors vs State Of Karnataka And Ors on 17 April, 1995Indian Kanoon - http://indiankanoon.org/doc/694951/1  games of chance and permitting the rest of the games to be of games of skill was in public interest.The conditions of licence are not arbitrary or unreasonable. Therefore, the action of theCommissioner was within the power under the Act or the Order4. The main thrust in these appeals is whether the video games attract the relevant orders and is agame within the definition of 'gaming' defined under the Tamil Nadu Gaming Act, 1930 or theMadras City Police Act or of the Mysore Act etc. The contention of the appellants is that it does notinvolve collection, soliciting, receiving or distribution of winning of prizes nor does it involve wagering. There is no element of betting or wagering in the business conducted by the appellants while operating video games. The definition of gaming, therefore, does not get attracted to videogaming. The space occupied by the machines used for video gaming is very small. It is neither like atheatre nor a public place. Therefore, it is not a common gaming house as defined under therespective Acts. The games conducted in the respective shops of the appellants do not involve any money transaction except collection of non-refundable charges for tokens for playing games. Theplayer is rewarded on winning as many number of tokens as he can obtain by skill and such token heso gains gives him another chance to play. The tokens are not exchangeable for any cash or money.That apart, the games are conducted only for amusement and to pass the time. The essentialrequirement to bring any game within the definition of gaming as defined under the Act iscompletely lacking. The customers are entertained purely for amusement. The video games are,therefore, neither illegal nor unjustified. Therefore, the appellants are not required to obtain any licence from the licensing authority concerned5. Section 2(7) of Mysore Act defines 'gaming' to mean that it does not include a lottery but all formsof wagering or betting in connection with any game of chance, except wagering or betting on a horserace, when such wagering or betting takes place. Explanation (ii) says : game of chance includes agame of chance and skill combined and a pretended game of chance or of chance and skillcombined, but does not include any athletic game or sport. Instruments of gaming , as defined inclause (11) includes any article used or intended to be used as a subject, or means of gaming, any document used or intended to be used as a register or record of evidence of any gaming, theproceeds of any gaming and any winnings or prizes in money or otherwise distributed or intended to be distributed in respect of any gaming. Clause (13) defines that 'place' includes a building, a tent, a booth or other erection, whether permanent or temporary, or any area whether enclosed or open.Clause (14) defines that place of public amusement means any place, where music, singing,dancing, or any diversion, or game, or the means of carrying on the game is provided and to whichthe public are admitted and includes a race course, circus, theatre, music hall, billiards room, bagatelle room, gymnasium, fencing school, swimming pool or dancing hall. Clause (15) defines place of public entertainment to mean any place to which the public are admitted .... Clause (18)defines public place to include the foreshore, the precincts of every public building or monument,and all places accessible to the public for drawing water, washing or bathing or for the purpose of recreation6. Section 3 of the Madras City Police Act defines common gaming house to mean any house,room, tent, enclosure, vehicle, vessel or any place whatsoever in which cards, dice, tables or otherinstruments of gaming are kept or used for the profit or gain of the person owning, occupying, using, M.J. Sivani And Ors vs State Of Karnataka And Ors on 17 April, 1995Indian Kanoon - http://indiankanoon.org/doc/694951/2  or keeping such house, room, tent, enclosure, vehicle, vessel or place, whether by way of charge,room, tent, enclosure, vehicle, vessel or place, or otherwise howsoever and includes any house,room, tent, enclosure, vehicle, vessel or place opened, kept or used or permitted to be opened, keptor used for the purpose of gaming. Instruments of gaming has been defined to include any articleused or intended to be used as a subject or means of gaming, any document used or intended to beused as a register or record or evidence of any gaming, the proceeds of any gaming, and any winningor prizes in money or otherwise distributed or intended to be distributed in respect of any gaming. Public place has been defined to mean a place including a road, street or way, whether athoroughfare or not and a landing place to which the public are granted access or have a right toresort, or over which they have a right to pass7. Black's Law Dictionary, 6th Edn., defines 'gaming' at p. 679 thus The practice or act of gambling. An agreement between two or more persons to play together at a game of chance for a stake or wager which is to become the property of the winner, and to which all contribute. The element of gaming are the presence of price or consideration, chance and prize or reward. Gaming place means any place, room, building, vehicle, vessel, tent or location which is used for any of thefollowing : Making and settling bets; receiving, holding, recording or forwarding bets or offers to bet; conducting lotteries or policy games; playing games of chance for money or other property; orplaying gambling devices. 'Game' includes a contrivance which has for its object to furnish sport,recreation, or amusement. 'Public' has been defined at p. 1227 as open to all; ... common to all ormany; general; open to common use, belonging to the people at large . 'Amusement' has beendefined at p. 84 as a pastime; diversion, enjoyment. A pleasurable occupation of the senses, or that which furnished it. 8. In Stroud's Judicial Dictionary, 5th Edn., Vol. I, common gaming house has been defined tomean (1) Is a house in which a large number of persons are invited whether publicly or privately,habitually to congregate for the purpose of gaming . (2) A common gaming house is a house keptor used for playing therein any game of chance, or any mixed game of chance and skill, in which (a)a bank is kept by one or more of the players exclusively of the others; or (b) in which any game isplayed the chances of which are not alike favourable to all the players, including among the playersthe banker or other person by whom the game is managed or against whom the other players stake,play, or bet. 'Gaming' has been defined as : to play any game, whether of skill or chance for money or money's worth; and the act is not less gaming because the game played is not in itself unlawful and whether itis involved or did not involve skill9. In State of A.P. v. K. Satyanarayana considering whether Rummy is a game of chance or skill, thisCourt held that The game of Rummy is not a game entirely of chance like the 'three- card' game ....The 'three-card' game which goes under different names such as 'flush', 'brag' etc. is a game of purechance. Rummy on the other hand, requires certain amount of skill because the fall of the cards has M.J. Sivani And Ors vs State Of Karnataka And Ors on 17 April, 1995Indian Kanoon - http://indiankanoon.org/doc/694951/3  to be memorised and the building up of Rummy requires considerable skill in holding anddiscarding cards. ... It is mainly and preponderantly a game of skill. The chance in Rummy is of thesame character as the chance in a deal at a game of bridge. 10. Gaming, therefore, is an inclusive definition which includes a game of chance and skill combinedor a pretended game of chance or of chance and skill combined. Gaming house would mean any house, room, tent etc. whether enclosed or open or any place whatsoever in which the instrumentsof gaming are kept or used for profits or gain by the person occupying, using or keeping such house,room, tent etc. whether by way of charge or otherwise. The instrument of gaming would include any article used or intended to be used as a subject of means of gaming, any document used or intendedto be used as a register or record or evidence of gaming, the profits of any gaming or any winnings orprizes in money or otherwise distributed or intended to be distributed or money's worth in gaming.Place would include a building or a tent etc. whether permanent or temporary or any area whetherenclosed or open. Place of public amusement means any place where any gain or means of carryingon the gain is provided in which the public are admitted and includes a road or a street or a way  whether a thoroughfare or not and a landing place in which the public are granted access or have aright to resort or over which they have a right to pass. The elements of gaming are the presence of prizes or consideration, chance and prizes are reward and games includes a contrivance which hasfor its object to furnish sport, recreation or amusement. Amusement would mean diversion, pastimeor enjoyment or a pleasurable occupation of the senses, or that which furnished it. A commongaming house is a place or public place kept or used for playing therein any game of chance, or any mixed game of chance and skill, in which the organiser keeps one or more of the players. It is also aplace in which any game is played, the chances of which are not favourable alike to all the players.Gaming is to play any game whether of skill or chance for money or money's worth and the act is notless gaming because the game played is not in itself unlawful and whether it involved or did notinvolve skill11. Where in a certain game, certain operations are to be performed to enable the gamester to play the game, the persons taking part in such operations must be deemed to be 'gaming' or actually assisting in the gaming. To game , therefore, is to play any game, whether of skill or chance, formoney or money's worth. It is playing of the game for money or money's worth whether the game belawful or not. No game can be a game of skill alone. In any game in which even great skill isrequired, chance must play a certain part. Even a skilled player in a game of mere skill may be lucky or unlucky, so that even in a game of mere skill chance must play its part. But it is not necessary todecide in terms of mathematical precision the relative proportion of chance or skill when deciding whether a game is a game of mere skill. When in a game the element of chance strongly preponderates, it cannot be a game of mere skill. Therefore, it is not practicable to decide whether aparticular video game is a game of skill or of mixed skill and chance. It depends upon the facts, ineach case12. The respective Acts deal with the regulation of the gaming or running of the common gaminghouse with penal consequences enumerated in the appropriate Act or the Rules or Regulationsoperating in that behalf. The licensing authority, the Commissioner/District Magistrate having acharge over the place or public place, by virtue of office, exercises his powers regulating the gaming M.J. Sivani And Ors vs State Of Karnataka And Ors on 17 April, 1995Indian Kanoon - http://indiankanoon.org/doc/694951/4
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