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MeitY Can't Be Saddled With Duty To Regulate Online Gambling Websites, Lotteries; Issue Falls Under State List: Centre Tells Delhi High Court

Nupur Thapliyal
26 Aug 2021 4:42 AM GMT
MeitY Cant Be Saddled With Duty To Regulate Online Gambling Websites, Lotteries; Issue Falls Under State List: Centre Tells Delhi High Court
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The Centre has told the Delhi High Court that the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology cannot be saddled with the duty to regulate online gambling websites or lotteries as the issue falls within the domain of State- 'Betting and Gambling' being State subjects.The development comes in a petition seeking to ban gambling/gaming websites and lotteries from operating in the country....

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The Centre has told the Delhi High Court that the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology cannot be saddled with the duty to regulate online gambling websites or lotteries as the issue falls within the domain of State- 'Betting and Gambling' being State subjects.

The development comes in a petition seeking to ban gambling/gaming websites and lotteries from operating in the country. The plea also sought quashing of the order dated October 21, 2020 issued by the Centre wherein it was stated that MeitY does not have the competence to block gambling and betting websites in India.

In a counter affidavit filed by the Government, it is claimed that the petitioner has failed to implead States as parties to the case which are the 'appropriate government' for regulation of 'betting or gambling."

"As per the legislative mandate drawn under the Constitution of India which expressly denotes the States to regulate on "betting and gambling," MeitY cannot be saddled with a duty to regulate such online gambling websites or lotteries. The issues relating to FEMA or money laundering or tax evasions do not fall under the domain of Respondent no. 1," the counter affidavit reads.

Refuting the statement made by the petitioner that MeiTY is empowered to regulate online gambling/games, the Centre has said that MeitY in exercise of their powers under Section 67, 69, and 69A of the Information Technology Act, 2000, cannot issue any directions or institute appropriate proceedings to prosecute those carrying out the illegal gambling activities.

"'Betting and Gambling' are State subjects [Entry 34 of List II (State List) of the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution of India]. Under the Constitution, only States are the 'appropriate government' to frame legislation and regulate online gambling/gaming websites," the affidavit reads further.

The Centre also said that the petitioner has failed to implead the States that have enacted gaming legislations, including the States of Sikkim, Nagaland, Telangana, and Andhra Pradesh. "Without hearing the views of the States, effective adjudication is not possible in this case," states the affidavit.

Case Title: AVINASH MEHROTRA v. UNION OF INDIA &ANR.

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