The Prize Competition Act, 1955

The Prize Competition Act, 1955 was enacted on 22nd October, 1955. The Act provides for control and regulation of prize competitions. Before enactment of the Act territories of Andhra, Bombay, Madras, Orissa, Uttar Pradesh, Hyderabad, Madhya Pradesh, East of Punjab had their own legislations to this effect, which after enforcement of the Act shall be governed by the Prize Competition Act, 1955.

The term prize competition under sub clause (d) of section 2 shall mean any competition where prizes are offered on solving of any puzzle weather in number or alphabets and shall also include cross-words, missing-words, picture prize competitions etc. Printing under the Act shall mean mode of representing or re-producing letters, words, figures in visible form..

Section 4 of the Act specifically lays down that where the prize exceeds one thousand rupees in a prize competition such competitions shall be prohibited under the Act. In case a person promotes or conducts more than one prize competition in a month the total value of all shall not exceed one thousand rupees. The number of entries acceptable is limited to two thousand. In case a person wants to promote a prize competition exceeding one thousand rupees, he shall obtain licence to the effect under section 5 of the Act.

Supreme Court, in State of Bombay vs R. M. D. Chamarbaugwala, 1957 AIR 699, 1957 SCR 874, in this case the Bombay Legislature passed the Bombay Lotteries and Prize Competitions Control and Tax (Amendment) Act of 1952, and widened the scope of the definition of ‘prize competition ‘ contained in S.     2(1) the respondents moved the High Court of Bombay under Art. 226 of the Constitution and contended that the amended Act and rules framed under it applicable to prize competitions were ultra vires. The State legislature had transgressed upon their fundamental rights thereby violating their rights under Art.19(1) (g) and freedom of inter-State trade under Art. 301 of the Constitution. Supreme Court held, that the law makers never intended to include “gambling” activities under article 19 (1)(g) of the constitution since such activities in their very nature are harmful and undesirable. The petitioners, therefore, had no fundamental right under Article 19(1) (g) or freedom under Art. 301 of the Constitution in respect of their prize-competitions and an Act in violation of such gambling activities need not be tested by Articles 19 (6) and 304 of the Constitution.”

In order to obtain licence, the person who so desires shall forward an application in writing to licensing authority who pursuant to making enquiry shall either grant or refuse licence to the applicant. When the authority refuses grant of licence it shall be recorded in writing along-with reasons of refusal and a copy shall be supplied to licensee. The person may appeal to state government, whose decision shall be final. In case a licensee breaches any condition under Act, the licensing authority after giving reasonable opportunity to licensee may cancel or suspend his license after recording reasons of cancellation.

The promoters of prize competition shall maintain accounts and submit the same to licensing authority also the accounts shall be liable to be checked at intervals. Failure to keep, maintain accounts or furnishing wrong accounts shall invite penalty of one month or fine of rupees five hundred or both. Incase a promoter conducts prize-competition in excess of one thousand rupees in absence of a valid licence; he shall be punished with imprisonment of three months or fine amounting to one thousand or both.

The Act also provides for penalty for other offences in connection with prize competition. Incase any person in contravention of provisions of the Act prints, publishes tickets or coupons, sells, distributes, advertises, invites persons, uses premises in connection with prize competitions such person shall be punished under clause (g) of section 11 with imprisonment of three months or fine of rupees five hundred or both.

The Act also applies to companies and all such persons working for a company who are responsible for committing an act in contravention of provisions of the Act. Section 14 of the Act empowers police officer not below the rank of sub inspector to enter and search premises where prize competitions are held. Incase police suspects a premise is being used for prize competitions in contravention with provisions of the Act, it has power to forfeit goods from such places. The search so made shall be in accordance and compliance of Cr.P.C. (Criminal Procedure Code) provisions.

Newspapers and publications containing prize competitions shall be forfeited under section 15 incase contravening provision of the Act. All proceedings under the Act shall take place before Magistrate. The Act empowers state government to make rules.

Since prize competitions are a menace to a progressive society thus the Prize Competition Act is a social Act to keep a check over prize competition activities and to ensure that the prize competition held are organized as per provisions of the Act.

by Vibhuti Nakta.