Tamil Nadu to enact new law to ban online rummy, poker after setback of Madras High Court judgment

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In what can be considered a significant development in the aftermath of the Madras High Court verdict on Tuesday, Tamil Nadu Law Minister S. Regupathy has confirmed that the DMK-led government will introduce a new law to ban online games like poker and rummy for stakes in the state.

“Soon after the judgment was delivered, the Chief Minister has advised for passing another law to ban online rummy by specifically mentioning the rules in this regard and also by specifically mentioning the reasons for the ban, in view of the welfare of the general public,” said S. Regupathy.

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He also blamed the AIADMK government for passing the legislation in a hurry on November 21 last year to ban online rummy and poker games.

“When petitions challenged the legislation in the court, though the Advocate General asserted certain points against online rummy, they were not mentioned when the legislation was passed. The Madras High Court has struck down the law observing that it cannot issue a blanket ban on online rummy without framing specific rules in this regard. However, it has also specified nothing prevented the government to pass another law by framing relevant rules,” the minister further added.

The Madras High Court on Tuesday struck down in its entirety the amendment to the Tamil Nadu Gaming Act which banned online games including online rummy and online poker with stakes, in what many in India’s online gaming business described as a landmark verdict.

The Court said that by imposing a wide-ranging, complete ban, the amendment has failed the least intrusive test and fallen afoul of Article 19 (1) (g) of the Constitution. Court noted that the challenged amendment was capricious, irrational, excessive, and disproportionate.

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The first bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy observed that the doctrine of severability is also not applicable since the amended definition of gaming runs throughout the Act, concluding that the amending Act is disproportionate to the object and ultra vires the Constitution.

“Nothing in this order will prevent the government from introducing appropriate legislation on the issue conforming to Constitutional principles of propriety,” the Court stated.