The debate about the legality of poker is to begin again and this time it’s Karan Mutha VS the Delhi High Court, centering mainly around the legality of offline poker. Karan Mutha, a resident of New Delhi, was arrested on the 21st of September, 2016 during a raid on a gambling house in Greater Kailash -1, for playing poker. He has filed a petition before the Delhi High Court against his arrest.

According to him, 7 people were arrested during that raid under the Sections 3, 4 and 9 of the Delhi Public Gambling Act, 1955 for gambling in a common gambling house. His argument is that, Police did not specify about the game being played in the premises during the raid. Furthermore, he adds that since he was playing poker, he is not liable to get arrested because poker is a skill based game and hence does not come under the provisions of gambling under section 13, the Delhi Public Gambling Act, irrespective of whether the game involves stakes or not.

Mutha has further argued that, when on one hand Nagaland has legalized online skill games, West Bengal and Karnataka have recognized poker as a game of skill and online websites are organizing online poker games throughout India which involves stakes, then on the other hand, it is unfair to criminalize offline poker games.

The petition also urges the high court to null and void the FIR and criminal charges against Mutha. Justice Mukta Gupta has asked the petitioner to present before the court licenses (if any possessed by him), that allows him to involve into offline poker, on the first hearing of the case which was on the 15th of December.

The police has also been asked to file an investigative report about the case. The court would remain adjourned for this petition for the time being and the next hearing has been scheduled on the 27th of April, 2018.

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