The Kerala High Court has served notices to Indian cricket team captain Virat Kohli, Malayalam actor Aju Varghese and South Indian actress Tamannaah Bhatia after hearing a petition to prohibit online rummy games. The three celebrities are brand ambassadors of online rummy games in India.
The High Court has also asked the Kerala government to reply to the petition. A division bench headed by Chief Justice S Manikumar was hearing the petition of Thrissur native Pauly Vaddakan seeking legal prohibition of online rummy game. “Online rummy games are becoming quite popular. It should be legally prohibited. Other states have done the same,” he alleged in the petition.
In the petition, Vaddakan said, “The State has Kerala Gaming Act, 1960. The Act does not include online rummy. So far, no steps have been taken. The stars who are brand ambassadors, are attracting audiences and are taking part in the competition. Online rummy is well within the limits of gambling.”
Apart from the brand ambassadors and the Kerala government, the respondents of this petition also includes Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), the Kerala IT Department and two private companies involved in running online rummy games.
High Courts of Tamil Nadu and Gujarat have asked their respective state legislature to explore online gaming regulation. Recently, Andhra Pradesh passed an ordinance to bring online gambling within the range of existing gaming legislation.
Aju Varghese is not the latest Mollywood celeb to be served a legal notice being a brand ambassador of a product. Earlier, actor Anoop Menon landed in a legal soup as a consumer court held him liable for making false claims endorsing a hair cream without ascertaining its effectiveness.
The District Consumer Redressal Forum in Thrissur, ordered the manufacturers of Dhathri Hair Cream and its brand ambassador Anoop Menon, who endorsed the product in an advertisement to pay compensation of Rs. 10,000 each to Thrissur native Francis Vadakkan, who had filed a case against the actor and the company in 2012.
In his complaint filed against Dhathri, Francis claimed that he had bought the cream for the first time in January 2012 after seeing an advertisement in which Anoop promised that the use of the product for six weeks will assure lush hair growth. Although Francis used the cream religiously and had even bought and used a second pack, there was no improvement. Ridiculed by his family and friends for purchasing the product, he decided to approach the Consumer Forum for Rs 5 lakh compensation alleging emotional distress and humiliation.
In a similar case, in 2016, K Chaathu, a sculptor, had filed a case against Indulekha soap, which claimed to turn people fair. Actor Mammootty was the brand ambassador of the product then. As the company decided not to fight the case, Chaathu received a compensation of Rs 30,000 from the company.