Justice Indrajit Mahanty and Ashok Kumar Gaur - Protecting the "Dream" in "Dream 11"
Issue 22 | November 22, 2020
A Division Bench of Justice Indrajit Mahanty and Ashok Kumar Gaur shaped the discourse of the debate pertaining to fantasy sports and their legality by penning down one of the initial judgements challenging the validity of Dream 11 and associating the same with gambling.
The Court has dismissed a Public Interest Litigation alleging the online game “Dream 11” of committing offences of betting and gambling.
The Court placed reliance on the directions of the Punjab and High Court decision, Varun Gumber v. Union Territory of Chandigarh 2017 Cri.L.J. 3827 wherein it was decided: “The respondent company’s website and success in Dream 11’s fantasy sports basically arises out of users’ exercise, superior knowledge, judgment and attention…. Equally so, before I conclude, I must express that gambling is not a trade and thus, is not protected by Article 19(1)(g) of Constitution of India and thus, the fantasy games of the respondent-company cannot be said to be falling within the gambling activities as the same involves the substantial skills which is nothing but is a business activity”
The Court also relied on Singh Sachar v. Union of India which upheld the legality of the game and upon challenging the Supreme Court, the same was dismissed.
This judgement has created waves in both the legal as well as the entertainment industry and has brought into light the thin line between a virtual gaming application based on skill or mere luck amounting to gambling. This step is one of the few initial decisions and it would be interesting to see whether the view adopted by the bench would be seconded or overruled in the upcoming years.