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Karnataka High Court Prohibits Racing and Betting Activities at Bangalore Turf Club

The Karnataka High Court has suspended the single bench interim order allowing Bengaluru Turf Club to conduct horse racing and betting activities. The club was required to seek permission and licence every time it conducted horse races and related betting events called on-course and offcourse racing, however, the application filed for April 2024 was rejected by the authorities. The club filed a petition challenging the rejection, and an interim order was passed allowing the racing and betting activities. Consequently, a writ petition was filed by the government to stay the impugned order.

An FIR had been filed, and a preliminary chargesheet had been submitted against the club for unauthorised betting activities and other illegal activities taking place within the premises. There were also allegations of cash collections and tax evasions. The club submitted that there was no good reason to prevent it from conducting the horse racing events that it had been organising continuously for years and that allegations of irregularities would be taken care of by the supervising and regulatory authorities.

The Karnataka Race Course Licensing Act, 1952 (hereinafter referred to as ‘the Licensing Act’) read with the Mysore Race Course Licensing Rules, 1952 (hereinafter referred to as the ‘Licensing Rules’), governs the procedure, process, rights and obligations in this regard.

The court observed that since it was apprehended that the event was prone to promoting and peddling illegalities relating to cash receipts, benami transactions, and bookie betting inside and outside the premises, the competent authority was entirely justified in rejecting the licence to hold the event. Further, the management of the Club, though aware, remained inactive, and failed to perform a supervisory role. Therefore, the learned Single Judge was not justified in substituting its own discretion to hold otherwise. The writ court had committed a jurisdictional error, when it proceeded to interfere with the judicious exercise of discretion by the administrative authority that passed the order on relevant considerations.