Allowing a batch of petitions that sought to quash pending cases filed on the charges of gambling, Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court observed that playing cards with stakes was not an offence under Tamil Nadu Gaming Act.
The court was hearing a batch of petitions filed from across Madurai, Virudhunagar and Theni districts, seeking to quash pending cases against the accused who were reportedly found playing cards and gambling. The police, following a tip-off, raided many clubs and seized cards and cash. Cases were registered against the accused under Tamil Nadu Gaming Act.
Justice G.K. Ilanthiraiyan observed that playing cards with stakes was not an offence, whereas playing cards in any gaming house was an offence under the Act. The court took into account the fact that the clubs where the accused played cards did not come under the purview of common gaming house.
The court said that the game of playing cards was not an offence per se. It was an offence only when it was carried out in a public place or in a common gaming house, as defined under the Act.
Under the Act, a common gaming house means any house, room, tent, enclosure, vehicle, vessel or any place whatsoever in which cards, dice, tables or other instruments of gaming were kept or used for the profit or gain of the person owning, occupying, using or keeping such premises for the purpose of gaming.
“Gaming does not include a lottery but includes wagering or betting. It is very clear that profit or gain is the primordial requisite for running a common gaming house. Unless and until proven by the prosecution that there was profit or gain by the owner or occupier of the place, the same would not come under the definition of common gaming house,” the court said.
Moreover, the police officers who registered the case and the investigating officers in the case were one and the same. Therefore the entire proceedings are vitiated and cannot be sustainable, the court said and quashed the proceedings.