The legal fight to clear the uncertainty of the legality of poker games in the Indian state of Gujarat remains in limbo, as the state’s High Court postponed the ruling to allow government officials more time to reply to the petitions.
If you recall, seven poker clubs led by 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.”
The clubs, however, decided to withdraw their special criminal application and file a fresh civil petition challenging the Ahmedabad police commissioner’s statement that poker is not exempted under the Gujarat Prevention of Gambling Act because it is a game of chance.
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. 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 clubs are seeking an interim order from the court so that they can continue operating in the state, but Glaws.in’s Jay Sayta reported that Justice GR Udhwani adjourned the joint civil petitions to June 23, as “it is understood that the state government and police sought time to give a detailed reply on the averements made by the clubs, including on their plea for interim relief.”
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.