Guj HC | Amidst allegations of gambling activities, Court gives due respect to Principles of Natural Justice

Gujarat High Court: A Bench of A.Y Kogje, J. partly allowed a petition whereby the case was remanded back to the Sub-Divisional Magistrate to reconsider the earlier order by giving an opportunity of hearing to the petitioner.

In the pertinent case, the petitioner submitted that while the period for which the license was to operate an FIR came to be registered with an allegation that in the area where the Anand Mela was being conducted, some people had indulged in gambling activity and therefore the area where the Anand Mela was being held was sealed. Since the livelihood of many families was dependant on the functioning of the Anand Mela, the petitioner thus approached the Court for an amendment to such order.  Further, it was contended that the license holder was not even present when the alleged incident had taken place and therefore if any of the visitors would have indulged in such activity then the petitioner cannot be held responsible.

The respondents, in turn, made allegations that the persons involved in the gambling activities and that the person conducting such activity had escaped from the premises. He also submitted that the petitioner is not entitled to any opportunity of hearing more particularly when he is in breach of the condition of license condition No. 16 of the license.

The Court after considering the material facts and the registered FIR opined that “the contention itself discloses that the license holder himself was not found on the spot when the petitioner strongly disputes about the nature of game being played at the Anand Mela and also disputes his presence at the time when the offence came to be registered. It would be a question of fact which will have to be gone into while the offence is being tried”. Also “The Provisions of Bombay Police Act under which the license is granted does not provide for any appeal as the provisions for appeal is restricted to certain sections but does not include Section 33(1) of the Bombay Police Act”. Further since conducting the Anand Mela was the primary source of livelihood for the petitioner and others, therefore before canceling the license where the petitioner is strongly opposing activity of gambling in the premises, the principles of natural justice should be followed.[Manharbhai Kachrabhai Rathod v. State of Gujarat, 2019 SCC OnLine Guj 604, Order dated 04-04-2019]

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