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KBC Ghar Baithe Lakhpati Contest: Are the organisers committing a Criminal Offence?

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Just before the commercial break,  Amitabh Bachchan the host of the famous T.V. show Kaun Banega Crorepati asks a Ghar baithe Lakhpati question where viewers have to answer a very simple question (a no brainer) and stand a chance to win One Lakh Rupees. Millions of people answer this very simple question by sending an SMS to the specified number and pay premium SMS rates after which a single winner is randomly selected through a computerised process Questions like this have become banal across India and one often comes across advertisements wherein one has to send an SMS (charging premium rates) to an extremely simple question to stand a chance to win a jackpot prize.

However the legality of these kinds of no-brainer prizes is in serious doubt.

Provisions and Punishment: It must be noted that under Section 294-A of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC)

Breaking the law?

keeping of any office or place for drawing a lottery without the authorisation of the State Government is  a criminal offence which may be punished with imprisonment up to six months and/or fine. In states where the above-mentioned Section is repealed, it may be in violation of State legislation’s [such as the Bombay Lotteries (Control and Tax) and Prize Competitions (Tax) Act, 1958] and  similar in nature to the IPC in terms of offence and punishment.

What constitutes a lottery?: A lottery is a game of chance in which either the event of gain or loss of the absolute right to the prize or prizes by the persons concerned, is made wholly dependent upon the drawing or casting of lots. Thus a lottery is the distribution of prizes by lot or chance without the use of any skill. It is thus the staking of money depending upon a contingency or an uncertain event, which is to be tendered certain by drawing of a lot or by chance.

Have the organisers of KBC committed an offence? : Depends on the way the provisions are interpreted. The following elements are required for the KBC Ghar baithe Lakhpati competition to be construed as a lottery.

Skill: According to K.I. Vibhute an expert on the IPC, “The fact that it (lotteries) involves a certain degree of skill does not make it any less a lottery, if the obtaining of a prize is determined more by chance than by skill”. Thus it is apparent that the above-mentioned competition is almost entirely dependent on chance.

Staking of money: It may be noticed that the participants have to call a special number or send an SMS to a special number by paying extra charges, the proceeds of which are shared by the telephone companies and KBC.  Hence the participants are certainly staking a small amount of money in anticipation of winning the prize, i.e. mutual gain or loss a key ingredient in determining whether a competition is a lottery.

Publication of proposal: KBC certainly publishes proposals and incites people to participate in the contest.

Drawing of lots: The winner is randomly selected by a computerised process. This can be described as ‘drawing of lottery.’

Authorisation of the government: There is no information to show the permission or authorisation of any State Government to allow KBC to conduct this competition.

It must be noted that Section 294-A of the IPC or State legislation’s may be interpreted in a different way to come to the conclusion that competitions involving minimal skills are not lotteries. In general the policy of the government indicates that people should be discouraged from indulging in games of chance and probability. However a clarification of the government on the legal position of such competitions will be helpful.

Jay has researched extensively on gaming laws and has been cited by various media houses and journals as an expert. He has helped leading newspapers in their stories on gaming laws. Jay completed his B.A. LL.B. (Hons.) degree from NUJS, Kolkata in 2015 and is currently based out of Mumbai.

23 Comments

23 Comments

  1. Yogesh Dawda

    October 22, 2010 at 9:18 am

    Dear Jay

    I like your observation and more over how you put into the legal format, I think you are right it is type of lottery or lootery making more money then prize through SMS…Yogesh Dawda

  2. Shoumendu Mukherji

    October 22, 2010 at 6:47 pm

    But Jay, has anyone taken up the issue formally – – – have proceedings been initiated to prosecute SET India ??? Its very apparent on the face of it, that the Lakhpati contest is a kind of lottery – – – –

    • Jay Sayta

      October 22, 2010 at 7:07 pm

      Yes, you are right no one has taken up the issue formally as often is the case-our government needs someone to wake them up from their slumber!!!

  3. Megh Shah

    October 22, 2010 at 10:02 pm

    I read your article. But these kinds of contests have been in existence since a long time. So basically this is illegal, but nobody has taken up the issue to the courts.
    Does anyone even know if this is illegal?
    But I don’t think a wise man participates in these lotteries where probability is too low of winning.

    Do you intend to legalise these kind of lotteries?

    • Megh Shah

      October 22, 2010 at 10:03 pm

      You have gone in great detail!!

    • Jay Sayta

      October 22, 2010 at 10:40 pm

      It is precisely to prevent people from participating in such contests that it is criminalised. I am not suggesting that such competitions, lotteries etc. be banned but I think there is a need for reforms as times have changed and some laws have become outdated. We should look at U.K. laws, for instance- wait for my future posts, i’m going to write more on that aspect…

  4. Vatsal

    October 23, 2010 at 11:01 am

    the research part of the article is good.. do keep coming in with other informative articles too..

    • Jay Sayta

      October 23, 2010 at 11:22 am

      Thanks… I am working on other issues concerning gambling laws and will publish 1-2 articles on it shortly…Watch out this website for more…

  5. Anshuman

    November 2, 2010 at 12:26 am

    Some real eye openers…
    I am working on gaming laws as a part of my cyber law curriculum..
    And these things make my project with some really stuffed content…
    Thankyou
    Would look forward for some more..

    • Jay Sayta

      November 2, 2010 at 9:42 am

      Thanks a lot 🙂 Glad to see a lot of people finding my articles useful…As regards to your other query regarding explicit scenes in computer games, I think the provisions of the Information Technology Act, especially after the amendment in 2008 will be sufficient in punishing the guilty. The subject matter of this website however, is specifically restricted to betting, gambling, lottery legislations and other related aspects.

  6. RHCP

    November 10, 2010 at 5:04 am

    That’s cool. I think I should write about that in my blog

  7. poonam pandey

    November 27, 2010 at 11:21 am

    dear sir very good work…THANKYOU

  8. dharmendr panday

    December 1, 2010 at 10:04 am

    Dear sir,madam
    There is no use in registering for ghar baithe lakhpati contest. It’s a waste of time.

    Thank you

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  10. Reviews of BttB 2010

    February 11, 2011 at 4:35 am

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    March 22, 2011 at 2:35 pm

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  12. Ravendra Singh

    September 29, 2012 at 5:16 pm

    sir, pls inform to me that my younger brother who had sent sms to kbc contest, ofter somtimes any person call to him and what he tolt that u r winner and u can get the prise from hydrabad. is it true or false pls inform to my mail address

  13. Kanhaiya Kumar

    December 8, 2012 at 9:18 pm

    Dear sir,
    I send daily massage ghar baithe lakhpati .the answer was true but not respond my answer .
    so i request .please how to participate .
    My cont no-9546585844

  14. Santosh kumar rajak

    September 16, 2013 at 3:29 pm

    Ghar baithe lakhpati ke liye rules kya hai?

  15. yasin naik

    April 20, 2014 at 7:56 pm

    I want became a crorepati . Please help me

  16. N.Mohan

    August 22, 2014 at 2:31 pm

    Whether Mr.Amitabh Bachan thinks only people who knows Hindi watch KBC. There are so many people in Kerala, Tamil Nadu,Karnataka, Odisha, AP, even interior Maharashtra who do not understand Hindi. Ghar Baitke etc is asked only in Hindi. Is there any bias? Almost the whole episoodes are in Hindi. I would request both Hindi and English to be used even in “Ghar Baitke etc”.
    Regards,Mohan

  17. mubarak naqvi

    June 10, 2015 at 4:04 pm

    says

  18. surajthakur

    February 27, 2017 at 8:35 pm

    Nice

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