The Tamil Nadu state government told the Madras High Court that private companies involved in offering online rummy stakes will not be able to seek protection under Article 19(1) (g) of the Indian Constitution, which allows one the right to carry on occupation, trade or business because gambling cannot be considered a trade or business.
The government filed a counter affidavit before first Division Bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy through Advocate General Vijay Narayan. They stated in that affidavit that rummy could be a game of skill and not of chance but despite everything, it could be banned if anyway they get of betting or wagering while playing this game.
Few online game portals based in Haryana and other parts of the country had filed a batch of writ petitions and in response to that, the Tamil Nadu government filed a counter affidavit. These companies had challenged the Constitutional validity of an Ordinance passed by the Tamil Nadu state government in November 2020, in which they wanted to ban all online games which required stakes on cyberspace.
PS Raman, the senior counsel representing one of the game portals, asked for time to file a rejoinder to the state’s counter affidavit. Much to his delight, the Bench accepted his request and adjourned the next hearing to February 10, 2021. Interim relief was not granted to another senior counsel Abhishek Manu Singhvi, who was representing another online gaming portal.
The rate of suicide in the state has been on the rise due to the debts some of the gamblers have on them. Thus, this counter affidavit was filed on behalf of the Chief Secretary and the Home Secretary and it stated that seven people killed themselves in the last five years after losing out on their money on online gaming portals. Four more people died and 10 other criminal offences had been reported in the state and it could be related to this online gambling, the affidavit added.
“It has also come to light that many children are playing online games with stakes. They are using their parents’ credit cards / debit cards. Many parents have lost their hard-earned money in this manner. No complaint can be made in this regard since children play the games by giving their consent to rules framed by online game companies,” the counter stated as reported by The Hindu.
In another incident related to gambling, a grocery store owner in Thoothukudi district took Rs 1.25 lakh from his wife to run his shop but he lost all the money while gambling online. Later, when his wife refused to shell out more money, the man tried to murder his kids aged four and three by poisoning them and also tried to attempt suicide. Sathankulam police have filed a case in this regard.
Tamil Nadu state government also pointed out that Justice B. Pugalendhi of the High Court, on July 24, 2020, pointed out
The State also pointed out that Justice B. Pugalendhi of the High Court, on July 24, 2020 had pointed out that the Telangana Gaming (Amendment) Act of 2017 prohibited all forms of gaming, being games of skill or games of chance, for money.
“When the menace of lottery was at its peak sucking the blood and life of several families, the Government of Tamil Nadu had taken a rigid stand in 2003 and banned the sale of all kinds of lotteries, including those sold online, within the territory of the State, by issuing a Government Order (G.O.) on January 8, 2003.
“Though the G.O. was challenged before the courts of law, it still holds the field. By virtue of this order, the Government has prevented the suicidal deaths of those who had not only lost their hard-earned money but also their family peace and reputation,” Justice Pugalendhi stated.