Senior citizens arrested for 'gambling' await compensation

Jun 13, 2013, 06:55 IST | Samarth Moray

HC had ordered that the 17 card players detained illegally by cops in a bogus gambling case be compensated with Rs 1,000 each; a year later, the amount is yet to reach the victims

A year after the Bombay High Court directed the state to make amends to the 17 citizens, the police had detained on the suspicion of gambling - they were playing rummy and bridge - are yet to see a single paisa of the Rs 1,000 compensation.

Jaywant Sail (centre), one of the 17 petitioners who had approached the court stating that bridge and rummy do not constitute gambling under the Gambling Act 

On June 25 last year, a division bench of Justices VM Kanade and PD Kode had ordered the state government to recompense all the 17 petitioners Rs 1,000, after the Andheri police illegally detained the group comprising mostly senior citizens the year before (see box). The court had also directed that an additional Rs 25,000 be paid to the two women in the group, as they had been hauled to the police station after sunset. But exactly a year after the judgment, the state is yet to fork out the trifling amount. 

One of those detained, Jaywant Sail, told MiD DAY, “To date, the state government has yet to honour the directive. We have not received any word from them. Though we have been returned all our money and muddemal confiscated from us at the time of arrest, the compensation hasn’t been paid.”

In their raid at the card room of Andheri Gymkhana - where the group was playing - the cops had seized counters and cash amounting to a few thousand rupees from the petitioners. A reminder sent around two months ago over the reparation amount elicited no response. The petitioners are now likely to move a contempt petition against the government, for not paying them their dues, through their lawyer Tejas Bhatt.

Court chiding
The court had warned the Andheri police’s raid team - ACP Prakash Wadkar, SPI Shivaji Deshmukh, PI Shekhar Bhalerao, PSI Ravindra Kadam, PSI Rahul Rakh and Constable Subhash Ungale - to remember their Sanskrit motto about ‘protecting the righteous and controlling and annihilating evil’. It said, “Merely because information is received from some quarters, [it] should not be blindly followed as it could result in causing grave injustice to innocent persons... for no fault of their own, they were made to undergo not only harassment at the hands of police but they were also threatened because they tried to take recourse in the court of law.”

Rummy diary
On August 10, 2011, acting on a tip-off, an Andheri police team raided the card room of Andheri Gymkhana where the 17 people, most of them senior citizens and housewives, were playing rummy and bridge, and arrested them. The team did not have any women officers. The group was charged with ‘keeping a common gaming house’ and ‘gaming in a common gaming house’ under the Prevention of Gambling Act, 1887.

However, rummy and bridge are both ‘games of skill’ as per the Bombay Prevention of Gambling Act, 1887, and do not amount to gambling, even if cards and counters are used, and the players play with stakes. The citizens were paraded before the OB vans of news channels waiting outside.

Though charged under bailable sections, the group was detained at the police station all night. Women are not to be taken to police stations after sunset, and the court, while giving its verdict, termed the breach of rule a “blatant violation”. They were not permitted to make phone calls, use toilet or have food or water. They could not even take their medications...

The other side
When contacted, Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Amitabh Rajan said, “It is an important matter. I will certainly check up on it tomorrow.”

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