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All seven clubs withdraw criminal application filed in Gujarat HC, likely to file fresh civil petitions next week

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It is understood that the seven poker clubs who had filed separate petitions in the Gujarat High Court (which were later tagged together) urging for holding poker to be a game of skill, have withdrawn their respective Special Criminal Applications from the Gujarat High Court.

The original petition initiated by KN Suresh of the Indian Poker Association (IPA), decided to withdraw his application, as it was contended that there is no longer any ground to proceed with a criminal application. IPA and the other clubs argued that on procedural grounds, they could not proceed with the criminal application since the ground of apprehension of harassment by police stated in their petitions no longer applied, due to a letter issued by the Ahmedabad police commissioner’s office in May 2017, which stated that poker is a game of chance.

The clubs now claim that the only way to challenge the police’s letter is through a fresh civil writ petition. While withdrawing the criminal applications, the High Court has granted them liberty to file fresh civil petitions to argue their contention that poker is a game of skill.

It may be noted that KN Suresh of IPA had on 22nd May approached the vacation bench of the Gujarat High Court seeking its urgent intervention and an interim order directing the police to not interfere in the game of poker. The matter was slated to come up for hearing on 9th June.

It is now understood that all the seven clubs will be filing a fresh civil writ petition by next week contending that poker is a game of skill and asking for the police commissioner’s letter stating that poker is a game of chance to be set aside.  The clubs will also be pressing for interim relief from the Gujarat High Court until final determination of the matter.

It appears that at least one another private company, Dominance Games Pvt. Ltd. has also filed a civil petition and the petitions of IPA and other clubs would in all likelihood be determined along with Dominance Games. The matter is expected to come up on 12th June, 2017.

This latest withdrawal of the criminal application and filing of a fresh civil petition by IPA is likely to delay the process of getting a decisive verdict from the Gujarat High Court.

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.