Public interest litigation has been filed in the Telangana High Court seeking permanent prohibition of BattleGrounds Mobile India (BGMI) in India. The case sought the issuance of a writ of Mandamus directing to prohibit both computer and mobile versions of BGMI. The plea also sought directions to the central government and Telangana government to establish an online games safety rating agency and to frame rules to regulate the online games in order to screen them to prevent adverse impacts on social health. While the plea prays for banning the desktop version, there is no desktop version of BGMI!
BGMI is the Indian version of the popular battle royale game Players Unknown BattleGround (PUBG) which was banned in India amid border clashes between the Indian and Chinese armies in 2020. Tencent, the Chinese technology gaming giant was the publisher of the game in 2020. Prior to the ban in 2020, Ahad Nizam, an 11 year from Mumbai had filed a petition before the Bombay High Court in January 2019, seeking a ban on PUBG.
Krafton, the original developer of the game relaunched the game as BGMI in July 2021after incorporating a local company based in Bengaluru. Krafton partnered with Microsoft Azure to ensure personal data protection through the latter’s platform.
When listed for hearing on 30 November 2021, the Assistant Solicitor General has accepted the notice on behalf of the central government. The matter was again listed on 28 January, the counsel for the central government sought six weeks time to file the counter affidavit. The matter will now be heard by the Telangana High Court on 14 March 2022.
PUBG is one of the games listed in the medal category of Asian Games scheduled from September 10th to September 25th, 2022. The Games will be hosted in Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China. The list of titles announced in September includes the names of FIFA, Dota 2, and League of Legends.
Interestingly, a similar petition has been filed across the border in Lahore, Pakistan. A petition seeking a ban on the online game, PUBG, in Pakistan in the wake of incidents of violence and killings involving youngsters fond of the game was filed with Lahore High Court on January 30. India’s eatrn neighbor, Bangladesh has banned PubG and Free fire in August 2021 after a direction from the High Court of Bangladesh to shut down the dangerous and harmful apps and software on the internet for three months.