20 Aug 2015

Rummy for stakes final order: Mahalakshmi Cultural Association acquitted by trial court, petition withdrawn in SC

The Supreme Court in its order dated 18th August allowed rummy club Mahalakshmi Cultural Association to withdraw its Special Leave Petition (SLP) as the members of the club were acquitted by the trial court. A bench of Justices Madan Lokur and SA Bobde noted that there was no allegation by the prosecution that the club members were indulging in the game of rummy. The bench also noted that the charge of the members were playing the game of ‘ulle velliye’ for profit could not be proved in trial and hence they were acquitted.

In its order, the Court clearly mentions that the writ petitions before the Madras High Court are withdrawn and therefore observations contained in the order do not survive. It may be noted that insofar as online rummy was concerned, the Supreme Court while disposing online rummy companies’ petition on 13th August had noted that since the Madras High Court order did not pertain to online rummy, the matter was not res integra and consequently was not required to be heard further. The combined implications of these two orders is that the remarks of the division bench of the Madras High Court that playing rummy for stakes amounts to the offence of gambling have no precedential value and would not apply to either online or offline rummy.

The order therefore strengthens the proposition that online and offline rummy for stakes or profit is not illegal (in fact orders of the Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh High Courts seems to suggest that playing rummy for real money is completely legal). Although, contrary to expectations, the Supreme Court order has not brought conclusive clarity on the legality of playing skill games for stakes, there have not been any negative remarks in the order and therefore online rummy companies should be able to continue operations without roadblocks.

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