5 Dec 2019

One SLP against Dream11’s Bombay HC order dismissed, 2 more pending in SC

Dream11 logo

Three Special Leave Petitions (SLPs) have been filed in the Supreme Court against the April 2019 order of the Bombay High Court holding Dream11 to be a game of skill and approving the company’s manner of payment of Goods and Services Tax (GST).

Through its order, the division bench of the Bombay High Court comprising Justices Ranjit More and Bharati H. Dangre had noted that no case could be made out by the petitioner Gurdeep Singh Sachar, for GST evasion and that the company was paying 18% GST on the fees it retained from the players pool, which was the correct manner of paying GST.

The court also rejected Sachar’s contention that fantasy sports amounted to gambling and noted that the Punjab and Haryana High Court as well the Supreme Court in several cases have laid down the test for games of skill, and fantasy sports have been established to be a game involving substantial degree of skill.

Varun Gumber, a lawyer who had earlier filed a petition against Dream11 in the Punjab & Haryana High Court as well as appeal against that order in the Supreme Court, once again approached the Supreme Court in appeal against the Bombay High Court’s order in the Gurdeep Singh Sachar case.

Gumber’s latest petition has however been promptly dismissed by the Supreme Court through an order dated 4th October, 2019.

A division bench comprising of Justices Rohinton Nariman and V. Ramasubramanian through a one line order dismissed Gumber’s appeal against the Bombay High Court judgment.

Interestingly however, the Union of India and State of Maharashtra also filed special leave petitions against the Sachar judgment in November, 2019, challenging the Bombay High Court’s clean chit to Dream11 in the manner it pays its GST and the ruling that the fantasy sports format offered by the company amounts to a game of skill.

The petitions of the Maharashtra and central governments are likely to come up for hearing before the Supreme Court in the next few weeks. It remains to be seen whether the petitions will be admitted and heard in detail by the Supreme Court.