[TN Online Gaming Ban Law] Justice Chandru committee came to a premeditated conclusion on online games: argues senior lawyer

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Madras High Court on Thursday continued to hear the arguments in the case challenging the constitutionality of online gaming ban law enacted by Tamil Nadu.

Senior counsel Dr. Abhishek Manu Singhvi appearing for gaming companies made his rejoinder submissions pointing out how the Chandru committee which was formed to advice the government on the legislation on online gaming came to a premeditated conclusion and did not consult all stakeholders, submitting its report within a short span of less than 2 week and that the committee did not analyse what would have been alternative measures instead of a ban.

He further rebutted the state government’s submissions about the difference between online and offline rummy and rebutted other submissions of the state government on suicides and harm. Singhvi also pointed out that the paragraph in the 1967 judgment about profit or gain involved in rummy have been interpreted by 3 different High Courts, including Madras High Court in Junglee Games and as such the judgment does not prevent online rummy for stakes or profit.

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Another senior counsel Mukul Rohatgi supplemented the submissions of Dr. Singhvi and added that the matter of regulation of online gaming was an occupied field as centre had already framed regulations under the IT Rules.

The counsels for the petitioners sought time to file consolidated written submissions which was granted. Advocate General of Tamil Nadu sought time from the bench to enable Kapil Sibal to make a brief sur-rejoinder. The same was opposed by Rohatgi and the bench also expressed its disinclination to hear a sur-rejoinder. The case will now be listed again on 5th September, 2023 after parties have filed their written submissions.

Similar cases are pending before the Supreme Court arising from earlier decisions of High Courts of Karnataka and Madras.

In a related development, the Parliament has recently approved amendments to GST Laws to implement the proposed rate change of 28% on full face value of betting amount.