Exclusive: Tamil Nadu appeal against gaming ban law judgement to be heard by SC on 9 September

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The Tamil Nadu government’s appeal before the Supreme Court against the Madras High Court (MHC) order that struck down gaming ban law  enacted in 2021 as unconstitutional will be heard on 9 September. The case status on the Supreme Court shows the matter to be listed before a bench comprising of Justice Aniruddha Bose and Justice Vikram Nath at Cause List No. 4.

In the decision, the MHC noted that the challenged gaming ban law was capricious, irrational, excessive, and disproportionate. In an order dated 3rd August 2021, the first bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy of MHC observed that the doctrine of severability is also not applicable since the amended definition of gaming runs throughout the Act, concluding that the amending law is disproportionate to the object and ultra vires the Constitution.

Ever since the order, opposition parties have been demanding the government to enact another law or file an appeal. The government filed the appeal in November last year but never came up for hearing till date.

Current Status:

Notwithstanding the outcome of the appeal, the Stalin government has decided to enact a new law. The government in this regard had constituted a committee headed by retired Madras High Court judge K Chandru in June to analyse the impact caused by online gaming/gambling sites. The committee submitted a report on June 27 in favour of a ban. Subsequently, there were complaints from online gaming companies and also the public that their views were not taken into account.

The panel’s report pointed to the impact of online games at the societal level and how these games propel adolescents to misuse their parents’ credit cards, etc. Political parties have been urging the government to enact a law expeditiously to ban these games.

A stakeholders’ meeting was called for and people were also asked to mail their suggestions earlier this month. The last date for submissions was set as August 12. A press release in this regard was addressed to parents, students, teachers, activists, and psychologists.

The Tamil Nadu government has received nearly 10,000 mails from public on the call to provide views on the proposed gaming ban law. The government is moving cautiously this time so to defend the law when it is challenged again by gaming operators.