PIL Filed before Karnataka HC to Veto FIFS Charter Compliant Fantasy Sports

by Amit K. Marketing Manager

A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) has been filed with the Karnataka High Court, requesting that the Karnataka government amend the Karnataka Police Act, 1963 (KPA) to prohibit the offering and participation in FIFS-compliant fantasy sports in the state of Karnataka. As respondents, the petitioner named the Karnataka government and FIFS.

The petitioner also requested that the offering and participation in FIFS-compliant fantasy sports be declared a criminal offence under the KPA. At the time of writing, the petition had been assigned a FR number and was awaiting final registration.

Despite notifying amendments to the KPA, the respondent no.1 (Karnataka government) had not prohibited the offering and playing of these online fantasy sports compliant with the charter of the respondent no. 2, according to the petition, which FIFS has uploaded to its website.

FIFS (Federation of Indian Fantasy Sports), a section 8 non-profit organisation, is India's self-regulatory body for fantasy sports. The Hon'ble Justice (Rt) Ashok Bhushan had provided FIFS with a legal opinion on the applicability of the recently notified amendments to the KPA to online fantasy sports operators. The legislature's intent was not to cover legitimate business activity, as evidenced by substantive section 2(7), and in line with the settled legal position that OFS based on the FIFS charter does not amount to wagering or betting, according to the opinion. According to the former judge, online fantasy sports are not covered by gaming as defined by the KPA, and the operators can continue their legitimate business activity because it is protected under Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution.

Dream11 relied on FIFS's opinion to continue operations until the afternoon of October 10 (Sunday), while other major operators such as PaytmFirst, MPL, and BalleBaazi ceased operations in the state on October 6. The current petition was filed on October 8, while Dream11 was still in business.

Saahil Nalwaya – A Serial PIL litigant?

Saahil Nalwaya, the petitioner, claims to be a resident of Rajasthan. He had previously filed a petition with the Rajasthan High Court seeking a ban on fantasy sports, which was denied.

Since the outcome of the fantasy game is determined by the participant's skill rather than pure chance, and winning or losing of the virtual team created by the participant is also independent of the outcome of the game or event in the real world, they have held that the format of online fantasy game offered by respondent No.5 is a game of mere skill, and their business is protected under Article 19(1)(g) of the Indian Constitution, as repeatedly held by various Courts and affirmed by the Supreme Court.

According to the petitioner, the Rajasthan High Court erred in observing that the provision of online fantasy sports in accordance with the FIFS charter has already been judicially recognised as a business entitled to protection under Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution. The legality of fantasy sports has been addressed by multiple High Courts and the Supreme Court as recently as July 2021.

The petition cites Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu as states that have passed laws prohibiting all forms of online gambling for monetary gain. The Madras High Court recently overturned the Tamil Nadu amendment, which the petition fails to mention.

All of the major players in the state have already closed their doors (Dream11 was the last operator to shut on October 10). Five petitions have been filed against the recent amendment in the Karnataka High Court, including one by gaming unicorn Mobile Premier League (MPL)


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About Amit K. Committed   Marketing Manager

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Joined APSense since, February 5th, 2021, From Kolkata, India.

Created on Nov 5th 2021 04:44. Viewed 166 times.


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