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Other than the person found actually conducting matka and gambling activities, the ‘owner’ is also liable for punishment under section 78(3) of the Karnataka Police Act, the high court observed recently.

Section 78(3), a punishment clause, prescribes three months’ imprisonment or fine for such offences.

Refusing to quash proceedings against Ramanji, against whom Pavagada police had filed a chargesheet for operating matka, Justice K Natarajan has noted that under section 78(1) as well as section 78(1)(b), the owner, occupier and other person is also liable for punishment.

The judge also observed that police not citing any independent witnesses in the chargesheet, by itself, is not grounds to quash criminal proceedings.

As for the petitioner’s contention that he was not present, the judge pointed out that the co-accused, Narasimha, had stated that he was giving the money to Ramanji.

“Of course, it may be based on the voluntary statement (of Narasimha). But is the statement admissible or not admissible (is decided) when appreciation of evidence is considered during the trial. It cannot be a ground for quashing the chargesheet,” Justice Natarajan said.

Ramanji, a resident of Shanthinagar area of Pavagada town in Tumakuru, was booked following a raid on September 27, 2021. Co-accused Narasimha was found playing matka, assuring Rs 70 for Re 1. The customers ran away and police seized Rs 4,180 cash, matka chits and a ball pen. After obtaining permission from the magistrate as it was a non-cognizable offence, police completed investigation within six days and filed a chargesheet, naming Ramanji as absconding accused no. 2.

Challenging the FIR and chargesheet, Ramanji claimed he was not present at the spot and hence could not be prosecuted under section 78(3). He added that without issuing a formal inquiry notice under section 41 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, the cops could not have filed a chargesheet. According to him, the chargesheet was filed based on the “inadmissible” voluntary statement of Narasimha.

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