Playing Rummy Online is Legal in India
Rummy is considered a game of skill and is 100% legal in India to play for free or cash. In 1996, the Honourable Supreme Court of India has defined gambling or gaming as betting and wagering of games of chance only. The judgement excludes games of skill irrespective of whether they are played with cash or not.
Here is the exact quote from the 1996 judgement:
"The expression "gaming" in the two acts has to be interpreted in the light of law laid down by this court in the two 1957 cases, wherein it has authoritatively been held that a competition which substantially depends on skill is not gambling. Gaming is the act of practice of gambling on a game of chance. It is staking on chance where chance is the controlling factor. "Gaming" in the two acts would therefore, mean wagering or betting on games of chance. It would not include games of skill like horse racing."
In addition to this, the Public Gambling Act, which is the central law on gambling, substantially states that "nothing in this Act shall apply to games of mere skill wherever played." This is also mentioned in 1996 Supreme Court judgement with regards to Tamil Nadu and Madras law.
Section 11 of the Gaming Act specifically saves the games of skill from penal provisions of the two Acts.
A game of skill as defined by Supreme Court of India in 1996 is as follows:
The competitions where success depends on substantial degree of skill are not "gambling" and
Despite there being an element of chance if a game is preponderantly a game of skill it would nevertheless be a game of "mere skill".
The 1968 Supreme Court ruling that declared rummy to be a game of skill:
"Rummy, on the other hand, requires certain amount of skill because the fall of the cards has to be memorized and the building up of Rummy requires considerable skill in holding and discarding cards. We cannot, therefore, say that the game of Rummy is a game of entire chance. It is mainly and preponderantly a game of skill. The chance in Rummy is of the same character as the chance in a deal at a game of bridge."
Further, the Supreme Court in 1996 also stated:
"A game of skill, on the other hand - although the element of chance necessarily cannot be entirely eliminated; is one in which success depends principally upon the superior knowledge, training, attention, experience and adroitness of the player. Golf, chess and even Rummy are considered to be games of skill. The Courts have reasoned that there are few games, if any, which consist purely of chance or skill, and as such a game of chance is one in which the element of chance predominates over the element of skill, and a game of skill is one in which the element of skill predominates over the element of chance. It is the dominant element --"skill" or "chance" -- which determines the character of the game."
In 1957 the Supreme Court stated that prize competitions which involve substantial skill are business activities that are protected under Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution of India.
The various Supreme Court rulings and the Gaming Acts of India imply the following: