Constitutional impasse: Tamil Nadu and Chattisgarh governors withhold assent to gaming ban laws

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The legislative assemblies of Tamil Nadu and Chattisgarh have recently unanimously approved online gaming ban bills. But the States ruled by non-NDA parties could not implement the law with the respective governors withholding the assent to the law.

The assent of a governor is essential for a bill to become a law. For Tamil Nadu this is a second attempt to implement a blanket ban on online gaming for stakes. An earlier law was quashed by Madras High Court as unconstitutional. The Tamil Nadu governor has posed queries on the constitutional validity of the fresh law.

For Chattisgarh, it is a different story. The state has seen penetration of illegal offshore gambling websites spearheaded by state natives who are now based in Middle East to evade the law enforcement authorities in India. The Chattisgarh governor was changed recently with the new governor also not taking up the matter.

Both the bills are yet to see a light with the issue leading to constitutional impasse – can a governor withhold indefinitely the assent of a law passed by assemblies?

It is also not clear if the respective governors are awaiting for a clarity on a national level law. The central government has recently announced that a national level law could be enacted if states arrive at consensus.

But bills stalling with the governor in non-NDA ruled states is not a new phenomena. Recently, the chief secretary of Telangana filed a plea with the Supreme Court to direct the governor to assent to the bills pending since September 2022. The chief secretary said the government was forced to approach the Supreme Court under Article 32 due to the constitutional impasse created on account of the governor’s refusal to act on several bills. Telangana is ruled by BJP bête noire BRS.

The issue of online gaming is also a political hot topic with ruling and non-ruling parties trying to use it for vote bank politics. Chattisgarh goes to election in the end of the year with a tough fight expected between BJP and ruling Congress.