Madhya Pradesh High Court dismisses PIL asking to prevent cricketers from promoting online games

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The Indore Bench of the Madhya Pradesh High Court recently dismissed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) asking to prevent celebrities such as MS Dhoni, Shah Rukh Khan, Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma from endorsing online gaming, and also to put strict penal laws in place to prohibit online games.

It was stated by the bench, comprising Justice A.N. Kesharwani and Justice Vivek Rusia, that online gaming is a matter of self-restriction, and a Writ cannot be issued on the matter. It added that it is the profession of these celebrities to be in advertisements. The petitioner is a former practising lawyer at the court and his main complaint was that several online games were being promoted by cricketers and film stars.

“The concern of the petitioner is in the public interest. Online gaming is not banned or prohibited in the State. It is matter of self-restriction as anything done in excess in an uncontrolled manner becomes injurious to life. No writ can be issued against private persons like respondents No. 1 to 4 for restraining them to do any advertisement because it is their profession to earn money. The petitioner has impleaded them as respondents and there is no such plea and relief to that effect in the writ petition,” stated the bench, as per Live Law reports.

The petitioner voiced that there should be stringent laws to contain such online games in Madhya Pradesh. The Government made it clear that it intends to control online gaming for minors, but the petitioner argued that no such law has been put in place until now. He also raised the instance of a student from the Khargone district, who committed suicide with a note that mentioned that he was addicted to online games and that he was hoping to get his family out of poverty by the means of those games.

Upon examining the submissions of parties and papers on record, the court declared that it cannot steer the Legislature to enact a law. It also noted that at the moment, gaming is not prohibited in the country and that forming a law to regulate it is in the domain of the Parliament and legislature.

Last year, the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court had also dismissed a PIL, seeking to prevent celebrities from endorsing online games in advertisements and called it ‘a waste of time’. The bench had gone further and said that the petitioner was only attempting to gain fame by targeting prominent personalities through the PIL.