Madras HC denies interim relief to online gaming firms, matter to be listed on July 13 for final hearing

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A division bench comprising Chief Justice Sanjay V. Gangapurwala and Justice PD Audikesavalu at Madras High Court today heard the writ petitions filed by the All India Gaming Federation (AIGF) along with several online gaming firms, challenging the validity of Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Online Gambling and Regulation of Online Games Act, 2022.

Senior counsel Mukul Rohatgi, representing Junglee Rummy, A23 and Games24x7, and Abhishek Manu Singhvi representing Gameskraft stressed that the new law passed by the state government is ex facie unconstitutional and contradicts several Supreme Court and High Court judgments.

Rohatgi argued that it is a well-established fact that online games like rummy and poker are games of skill while Singhvi asserted that previous three judgments in similar cases of online rummy ban passed by the Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala governments were recently struck down.

Rohatgi and Singhvi then asked the bench for interim relief, claiming that the online gaming companies are facing threat of coercive criminal action even when the games provided by them are ruled as skill-based games by the Supreme Court.

Senior counsel Kapil Sibal, representing the state government, opposed the petitioners’ argument claiming that the plea for interim relief was already made on April 27 before a division bench comprising then Acting Chief Justice T. Raja and Justice D. Bharatha Chakravarthy who had refused to grant the same.

Sibal then insisted that the writ petitions be taken up for final hearing instead of for interim relief.

After hearing both sides, the Chief Justice refused granting interim relief and asked the counsel to agree upon a date for final arguments. Sibal suggested July 20 while Rohatgi asked for July 13.

The matter will now be listed again on July 13, 2023 allowing the petitioners to make submissions for interim relief while Sibal can make his submission on or after July 20 depending on his convenience.


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