On Tuesday, The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) under the Union Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY) urged the Madras High Court to dismiss a public interest litigation petition filed against online gaming.
In July, a plea was filed in the Madras High Court seeking the ban on online gambling along with the arrest and prosecution of online gaming platforms and celebrity personalities who endorse them. The plea had sought the response of the Central government and the State Government due to an increase in suicides among youth in Tamil Nadu due to gambling online.
In a counter affidavit filed before Justices M.M. Sundresh and R. Hemalatha, the department said there were well laid down procedures for blocking objectionable websites under the Information Technology Act of 2000 and hence the PIL petition need not be entertained.
A.P.Suryaprakasam, the petitioner, went as far as comparing online gaming sites with the Blue Whale game which had claimed the lives of several youngsters who got addicted to it. The petitioner also said that, “They are the major influencing factor. Gambling is evil and they are promoting it. As a matter of fact, the amended Consumer Protection Act has a provision that for false advertisements the brand ambassadors are responsible.”
An official from the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) had responded to the plea, stating that the DoT is not empowered in directly blocking website URLs, but can only direct the Internet Service Providers to do the same, under instructions from the Court or the Ministry of Electronics and IT.
According to the rules, the Group Coordinator of Cyber Law Division under the Department of Information Technology had been authorised to act as the Designated Officer empowered to order the blocking of websites on grounds listed under the Act. The websites could also be blocked in the interest of maintaining friendly relations with foreign countries, for maintaining public order or to prevent commission of any cognisable offence in relation to the grounds mentioned above.
In July, Justice B Pugalendi squashed a First Information Report (FIR) filed by the Kudankulam police against a school teacher for playing a game of rummy at a farm in June. The court suggested the Tamil Nadu government take measures to pass suitable legislation for regulating such skill games through license.
The court also stated that it is not against virtual games but that there should be a regulatory body to monitor and regulate the legal gaming activity, be it a virtual or real world, preventing alarming situations while keeping in mind the law of the land as well as judicial procedures.
After taking the counter on file, the judges directed the State government to file its counter affidavit and adjourned the case to the last week of this month. Overall, it’s good to see such positive updates with regards to the Indian online gaming industry, which has received way more backlash than it deserves over the years in India.
Online gaming is the future and such authorities squashing such PILs and differentiating online gaming from gambling will help give this industry the impetus it requires to grow in India. For more updates on gaming and gambling around the country, keep reading GutshotMagazine.com
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