HC gives 5-point directive to stop gambling across Bangladesh

Dhaka, Feb 20 – In a full text, the High Court on Thursday gave five-point directives to stop the gambling at 13 clubs, including Dhaka Club, and elsewhere across the country as it is illegal. In its full text, the HC bench said, “if the above games are played without any money or valuables being put at stake (which is admittedly not the case in those clubs), they may be allowed to play such games for the purpose of amusement.”
An HC bench, comprising Justice Sheikh Hassan Arif and Justice Md Mahmudul Hasan Talukdar, in a verdict declared gambling as illegal. It released the full text of the verdict yesterday afternoon, where it gave a five-point directive to stop the gambling across the country.
In its verdict, the HC said, “The above-mentioned games, namely Nipun Khela 1- 10, 1-8 Charchari, Dice, Housie, Three cards, Flash, Poker and any other games (except government authorized lottery) played physically, electronically or by any other instruments, the outcome of which predominantly depends on luck and not on skill, are gambling.”
“Accordingly, owning, occupying any place of such games and any instruments and allowing such games to take place, is an office under the law of the land. However, if the above games are played without any money or valuables being put at stake (which is admittedly not the case in those clubs), they may be allowed to play such games for the purpose of amusement,” according to the HC verdict.
“Keeping any place or office for drawing lottery, not being authorized by the government, is an offence punishable under Section 294 A of the Penal Code, 1860,” the HC verdict said.
According to the verdict, “Law enforcing agencies are directed to take immediate actions for seizure of those places (Dhaka Clubs and other similar Clubs) instruments of games as well as for preventing people from playing such games in those clubs and other clubs in the Metropolitans and beyond Metropolitans.”
“Raffle draws/coupons given as a side product of door tickets for attending picnics or to purchase any products from shopping malls, the dominant intention/purpose in those cases being to attend picnic or to purchase products, do not come within the mischief of gambling,” the verdict said.
The verdict also said, “It is expected that the government will think of seriously about an amendment of the relevant provisions of the law so that the prohibition of gambling applies equally to all people in Bangladesh irrespective of their financial and social status.”
The government should also think of seriously about increasing the punishment provided for gambling as the present punishments are very minimum considering the financial and other status of the people who are commonly engaged in those games, it noted.
In 2016, two Supreme Court (SC) lawyers, Advocate Samiul Huq and Advocate Rokonuddin Mohammad Faruk, had filed a writ petition with the HC seeking its directive to stop gambling at 13 social clubs in the capital.
The petition cited the Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) Ordinance 1976, the Chittagong Metropolitan Police Ordinance 1978, and the Public Gambling Act 1867.
Following the petition, the HC had issued a rule on December 4, 2016, asking the government authorities why it should not direct for action to be taken against unlawful business and indoor games like cards, dice, and housie which are played in exchange for money, wagers, stakes, or other benefits.
On January 23 this year, the HC concluded the hearing on the rule and kept its verdict pending.
In September 2019, the government launched a crackdown on illegal casinos across the country.
For two months, law enforcement agencies conducted around 50 raids across the country and arrested 275 people for their alleged involvement. Several leaders and activists of the Awami League and its front organisations, local city corporation councillors, contractors, and businesspersons were detained in the raids. – Staff Reporter