1. This criminal revision No. 210, and the other criminal revisions Nos. 205, 206, 209 arid 211, deal with two incidents of satta gambling. The cases Nos. 206, 209, 210 and 211 are the cases of Tulsi Das, Lachmi Narain, Budha, Thakur Das and Nehal Chand. The case No. 205 is that of Ghisa, Pershadi, Manohar and Kallu.
2. To deal now with the case No. 210, this man, Tulshi Das, was charged with a number of others with gambling in the satta form, i.e., with betting or taking bets on opium price figures, in a public place--an offence under Section 13 of the Gambling Act, III of 1867, as amended by the United Provinces Act I of 1917. The section, as amended, reads: 'any person found gaming in any public street, place or thoroughfare,' and by the same Acts 'gaming' includes 'wagering.' The nine men, whose cases are before me, were, in their respective two groups, charged in effect with being book makers, i.e. with keeping premises for the purposes of betting and themselves taking bets therein. They have been sentenced to a month's imprisonment each. A number of those who went there merely for the purpose of making bets were sentenced to various fines. Those others have not applied to this Court in revision.
3. The principal accused avowedly (vide the terms of their lease) took a lease of the premises concerned for the express purpose of carrying on the business which forms the subject of the charge. The 'place' in question consists of an enclosure within a larger enclosure, and the public street runs along one side of the larger enclosure, and the 'place,' if used in the ordinary way as a place of residence, would undoubtedly be a 'private' place. I mention these facts, because reliance has been placed on them by the defence, but in the view that I take, the construction of the place is wholly immaterial. The only question here is, 'Did the accused by their action convert this place into 'a public place' within the meaning of the Gambling Act?'
4. The term 'public place', or a cognate expression, is used in many Acts of the Legislature, but I am not aware of any statutory definition which can have a beaming on the present case. It may well have different meanings for the purpose of different Acts. Where it is not specifically defined, its value must be reasonably determined by the context and the circumstances in which it has been used. It is not defined in the Gambling Act. I have, therefore, to fall back on the consideration of what is the reasonable and proper scope to be given to the term for the purpose of Act III of 1867.
5. Two considerations present themselves. Is the act, which is forbidden, so forbidden because it violates a public title or because it violates moral standards publicly
6. Now it is clear that the Legislature, in such Acts as forbid encroachment on public property, has in view the protection of public title. It is equally clear that in enacting the Gambling Act, the Legislature had in view the prevention of public injury to moral standards and cannot be conceive of as having been even remotely concerned with the protection of public title to any particular property.
7. In what ways then can the standard of morality be publicly injured by gaming? It is possible to gamble:
(a)in a private house, entry to which is not permitted to any but friends, a select few coming by special invitation or special permission, and where the gaming can be neither ?seen nor heard by the public. This, whether gaming be or be not morally desirable, can clearly constitute, in no sense a public injury to moral standards.
(b) under similar conditions but where the gaming can be seen by the public without the public infringing the private rights of the owner of the place. Here there is a public injury to moral standards. Whether the circumstance of the gaming in a house, which is private in every sense of the warm, being visible to the public or members thereof will suffice to constitute it gaming 'in a public place,' is a point which I have not got to decide in this case. I content myself with noting that in view of, the case of Thallman (1863) 33 L.J. M.C. 58, anybody who so acts, will at least run a risk of meeting with an adverse decision.
(c) in a place the title to which is vested in the public Here there can be no suggestion that an offence is not committed.
(d) in a place the title to which is vested in a private individual but into which that individual, either avowedly or by implication, invites the public to come whether to gamble or as spectators. Here again is that public injury to moral standards in an equally virulent form as in the case (c) above, where the gambling is on land of which the title is vested in the public. The Legislature has used the words 'in a public place,' capable equally of including in their ordinary reasonable and proper meaning 'a place the title to which is vested in the public' and 'a place to which, however owned, the public is allowed in effect unrestricted access.' The public injury to moral standards to be prevented is. equally great in the two cases, is equally obvious in the two cases, and the language used reasonably covers the two cases. It would be unreasonable to hold that both cases are not covered.
8. In the case before me, it is not disputed that the accused invited to enter all and sundry who might wish to bet, but the ease would, in my opinion, have been no different if the invitation had been to a class of 'the public' or if there had been a merely colourable restriction on the right of entry.
9. My attention has been invited to a number of rulings and statutes, English and Indian, but holding, as I have, that the matter must be decided on the language and purpose of Act III of 1867 and on that alone, I do not think it necessary further to refer to them, beyond saying that the view I have taken in effect accords with that of Mr. Justice Stuart in Emperor v. Sukhnandan Singh (1921) I.L.R. 44 All. 265, m which he relied on The Queen v. Wellard (1884) L.R. 14 Q.B.D. 63. The latter case has, I find, been followed also in Hart Singh v. Jadu Nandan Singh (1903) I.L.R. 31 Calc. 542, and The Grown Prosecutor v. Govindarajulu (1915) I.L.R. 39 Mad. 886, and The Public Prosecutor v. Musa Sukharam : (1916)31MLJ285 .
10. I am of opinion that it is not the question of title to the place nor the nature of its metes and bounds which are the decisive factors, but the use to which the place is put.
11. I hold that the accused were gaming in a public place. There remains only the question of sentence. The accused plead that they did not know that they were breaking the law. I have held that they were breaking the law, and it appears to me that it had really been quite clear, ever since the ruling of Mr. Justice Stuart in Emperor v. Sukhnandan Singh (1921) I.L.R. 44 All. 265, decided on the 16th of December, 1921, which, though it referred to gambling of a different type, specifically dealt with the phrase 'in a public place.' Apart from what may have been the law, it is clear that the accused at least knew that they were doing something which the law had intended to forbid; and, being badly advised that there was a loop-hole, deliberately tried to take advantage of it. It is clear that they have done a very great deal of mischief; and, if the case rested there, I would maintain the sentence as it stands; but it also seems that some, at least, of that mischief would have been prevented if the police had taken action sooner. While, therefore, I think that a fine of Rs. 50 is adequate in the case of the men who merely took advantage of the facilities provided by these accused and went to best, I think it would be wholly inadequate in the case of the men who, for their own profit, deliberately provided those facilities. I reduce the sentence in the case of each of these nine then to a period of two weeks' simple imprisonmnent. Some if not all, of the applicants have already served several days. They will surrender to their bail and serve the remainder.