The legal battle to clear the uncertainty over the legality of poker games in the Indian state of Gujarat is likely to be delayed following reports that the poker clubs have withdrawn their original petitions from the Gujarat High Court.
Several weeks ago, the Indian Poker Association (IPA) filed a plea asking the high court for “urgent adjudication” after Gujarat police took down three poker rooms in less than a month. In its petition, the association claimed that poker is a game of skill and playing the game “is an activity that is protected under the right to free trade and commerce, which is guaranteed under Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution.”
However, GLaw.in’s Jay Sayta reported that IPA’s KN Suresh has decided to withdraw his original petition because “there is no longer any ground to proceed with a criminal application.” The original petition sought protection from the authorities’ “harassment of poker operators,” but the IPA said that no longer applied because the Ahmedabad police commissioner issued a notification on May 2 saying that poker is a game of chance and is not exempted under the Gujarat Prevention of Gambling Act.
IPA, along with six other poker clubs operating in Gujarat, believes that a fresh civil writ petition is the only way to challenge the police’s letter. According to the news outlet, the High Court has allowed the poker clubs to withdraw their criminal applications and file new petitions “to argue their contention that poker is a game of skill.”
The seven clubs are likely to file their new petitions “by next week,” Sayta wrote, noting that the poker clubs’ decision to withdraw their criminal applications will likely delay their long-drawn battle to get a verdict from the Gujarat High Court on whether poker should be considered gambling—which is illegal in the state—or a game of skill.
This isn’t the first time that the association has filed a petition against the state government for allegedly siccing cops on its card games. The IPA filed papers with the Gujarat High Court, asking the judiciary to intervene after the state government reportedly ordered law enforcement agencies to break up an IPA-hosted poker game at a local YMCA club in Ahmedabad late last year. Since then, IPA claimed Gujarat police raided over half a dozen poker clubs in the state and forced them to shut down.