State govt to enact laws to regulate online games, Centre to Delhi HC

It is reiterated that for effective enforcement, States must ensure that their laws have adequate regulatory provisions to prohibit online gambling.

Published: 25th August 2021 04:33 PM  |   Last Updated: 25th August 2021 04:33 PM   |  A+A-

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NEW DELHI: Ministery of Electronics Information and Technology (Miety) through an affidavit has informed Delhi High Court that the issues relating to online 'gambling' games expressly falls under the domain of the states and some states have already enacted laws to regulate online games.

Centre affidavit has been filed in a plea seeking to ban online gambling websites. It states that the petitioner has failed to implead States as parties to the case which are the appropriate government in the regulation of 'betting or gambling. Proper adjudication is not possible unless States are made parties, in this case, states Centre reply.

The bench of Justice DN Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh on Wednesday deferred the matter for October 11, after taking note that the Petitioner has yet to be served with the reply copy.

It is reiterated that for effective enforcement, States must ensure that their laws have adequate regulatory provisions to prohibit online gambling. As per the legislative mandate drawn under the Constitution of India which expressly denotes the States to regulate "betting and gambling," MeitY cannot be saddled with a duty to regulate such online gambling websites or lotteries, states Centre's reply.

The Delhi High Court had earlier issued notice to the Central government on a public suit seeking direction to take steps to ban and prevent online gambling websites from operating in the country.

The PIL was filed by one Avinash Mehrotra represented through advocates Awantika Manohar, Siddharth Iyer and Prashant Kumar, who sought directions to the concerned ministry of the Center to take steps to recover taxes due from both persons who played such online gambling, and more importantly, those who run and operate these websites.

It also sought an appropriate writ, order or direction, directing the respondents to prosecute the unscrupulous owners/ proprietors, and the promoters of the online gambling websites, in accordance with the law.

The plea submitted that gambling or wagering on games of chance is per se illegal according to the laws of our country, and most state legislations have expressly forbidden the same. It sought the quashing of orders dated October 21 2020, issued by the Union of India, stating that it does not have the competence to block gambling and betting websites in India.

"It is submitted that despite the presence of these provisions, a large number of websites can be accessed in the territory of India, through appropriate devices, and a person is free to gamble with cards or bet on the outcome of sport results, etc," the plea said.

The petitioner also submitted that for the NCT of Delhi gambling has been prohibited by the Delhi Public Gambling Act, 1955 and most states have similar acts in force, which prohibit gambling.

"It is submitted that all these activities, though expressly prohibited by law, are being carried out because of a lack of enforcement of the laws in question. Thus, despite being per se illegal these gambling websites are being permitted to operate and drive normal people towards economic and financial as well as social ruination," the plea said.

"Online gambling by itself is an addictive activity, and those currently addicted to this activity, are not in the correct frame of mind, to take steps to protect themselves and the public at large from this menace," it added. (ANI)


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