In a recent judgment by the Hon’ble Delhi High Court on November 30, 2017, in the matter of Suresh Kumar vs. Central Secretariat Club[1], agreed with a lower Court’s observations that merely playing rummy with small stakes in a club would not amount to gambling.

Brief Background

  • Central Secretariat Club (hereinafter referred to as the ‘Respondent’) filed a subject suit pleading that it is a society registered under Societies Registration Act, 1860, running a club for sports activities and recreation facilities for retired and working Central Government employees.
  • The President of the society was Sh. Harbhajan Singh who has been holding different positions in the management of the society for the last 48 years and who was also the Director of Kendriya Bhandar having impeccable reputation and respect for his honest and sincere work culture.
  • Mr. Suresh Kumar, (hereinafter referred to as the ‘Appellant’) was a helper in the society but in 2013 he was terminated after charges of misconduct was proven against him. He was given a charge sheet, enquiry was held and it was found that his behavior was unbecoming and that there were false and fabricated complaints by him against the Respondent and its office bearers.
  • The Appellant on September 8, 2015, filed a police complaint alleging that the President of the club, one Ramanand Sharma and some office staff are mafia members. They used to gamble in the club between 8:30 to 10:30 along with some other allegations.
  • Pursuant to the complaint a police enquiry was done and no evidence to support the claim of the Appellant was found. Finding the act of the Appellant to be defamatory, the Respondent sent a legal notice dated January 5, 2016, demanding an unconditional apology from the Appellant failing which it was informed that he will be proceeded against with both by way of a civil suit as also a criminal complaint.
  • There was no response to from the Appellant and therefore a subject suit was filed.
  • Defending himself the, Appellant in the subject suit said that:
  • He agrees to the claim that a police complaint was filed by him.
  • Sh. Ramanand Sharma is his maternal uncle, who was responsible for gambling in the club in the form of cards along with cricket betting, etc.
  • His services were terminated illegally as Sh. Ramanand Sharma was annoyed with him because of bringing the facts of the case to the present position.
  • Several witnesses were examined by the trial court in the subject suit, every testimony established that the allegations made in the police complaint were false.       
  • Trial Court therefore after observing the facts and evidences in detail passed an order directing the appellant to pay INR 3 lakh to the Respondent as damages for filing a false police complaint.
  • Thus, aggrieved by the order, the Appellant filed this appeal.

Court’s Decision

  • The Court took notice of the fact that the Appellant had earlier complained that a mafia operated in the Respondent club and the Respondent Club even allows gambling within its premises. But the Appellant failed to discharge the burden of proof on him.
  • Agreeing with the trial court order Justice Valmiki J. Mehta in line with the judgement given by the Supreme Court in State of Andhra Pradesh vs. K. Satyanarayana & Ors[2]. stated that the ‘trial court in my opinion also has rightly held that merely because a card game of rummy was played in the club premises with small stakes from a few annas to some rupees would not make it gambling’.
  • Further, the Court held that the allegations in the police complaint are defamatory. They took notice of the fact that in the complaint Sh. Harbhajan Singh, President of the Respondent club, was stated to be a mafia member but in reply to the subject suit Mr. Suresh Kumar, Appellant, conceded that ‘Sh. Harbhajan Singh is a man of impeccable integrity and has served the club honestly for last 48 years.’
  • The Court agreed with the lower Court’s observations and noted that the Appellant was “frustrated” as he had been fired by the club over misconduct. It was stated in this regard that ‘I completely agree with the discussion, reasoning and conclusion of the trial court because the complaint filed by the Appellant was on account of his frustration of having been removed from the services of the Respondent club and the allegations made by him were not bonafidely made and were made either as a revenge or to pressurize the Respondent to take him back in services with the fact that complaint was made after around two years of the Appellant being removed from his services with the Respondent club.’

Thus, finding no merit in the appeal, it was duly dismissed.