Karnataka HC lists PIL on new law for online gambling on 10th August

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The Karnataka High Court sought to know from the state government as to by when the draft Bill prepared by it pertaining to Online Gaming and Gambling will be presented before the cabinet.

A division bench of the Karnataka High Court comprising of Chief Justice Abhay Oka and Justice NS Sanjay Gowda while hearing a PIL filed by social activist Sharada DR asked the state government to come up with a concrete date by which a legislation on the issue of online gambling and betting will be placed before the cabinet for its approval.

While the Additional Government Advocate (AGA) appearing on behalf of the state of Karnataka stated that the draft Bill on the subject is ready, Chief Justice Oka expressed displeasure saying the same stand is being taken by the state government repeatedly without complying with the court’s orders.

During the previous hearings, the court had come down heavily on the state government for not taking a clear stand on the matter and for misleading the court.

On the last date of hearing of the matter (8th July 2021), Chief Secretary P. Ravi Kumar filed an affidavit pursuant to the court’s orders stating that a draft Bill on the subject has been prepared for the consideration of the Cabinet and immediate steps will be taken to place it before the state legislature once it is approved by the cabinet.

Ravi Kumar further added that the delay in responding to the court was neither intentional or deliberate and that the state government conducted deliberations with various departments and legal experts before drafting the Bill.

The court had however noted that the Chief Secretary’s affidavit did not spell out the clear stand of the state government and neither gave timelines by which a decision on the same would be taken, post which it had listed the matter for hearing today.

In the hearing today, a further time of one week was given to the state government to spell out clear timelines for bringing the legislation. The matter is likely to come up for hearing again on 10th August, 2021.

Meanwhile, as per local media reports, there has been a concerted campaign on social media against online gaming and gambling, and the State Home Department has indicated that deliberations on the contours of the draft legislation, including games to be banned and penalties to be imposed on online gaming are being deliberate upon by government officials.