SC issues notice on TN Govt plea challenging Madras HC decision on gaming ban law

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The Supreme Court bench comprising of Justice Aniruddha Bose and Justice Vikram Nath today issued notice on the plea filed challenging the judgment of the High Court of Madras striking down the ban on online games such as rummy and poker. Senior advocate Kapil Sibal appeared for the Government of Tamil Nadu.

The matter will be tentatively be listed after ten weeks with respondents (i.e. online rummy and gaming companies and All India Gaming Federation) given four weeks to file replies. The state government has been allowed to file a rejoinder to the responses by the gaming companies within two weeks thereafter. We were the first to report about the listing of the matter after ten months from the filing date.

The petition filed by the State of Tamil Nadu challenges the judgment passed by the first bench of the High Court of Madras on 3rd August of 2021 by which the High Court had struck down the Tamil Nadu Gaming and Police Laws (Amendment) Act of 2021. The Amendment had imposed a ban on games for stakes leading to ban on online games like rummy and poker played on the internet.

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.