The Delhi High Court on Thursday (08th October) directed the Union Of India & Delhi Government to treat a petition filed against online gambling, as a representation and decide the grievances ventilated in the petition, as narrated in detail in the writ petition.
The Bench of Chief Justice D. N Patel and Justice Prateek Jalan directed the respondents (UOI & Delhi High Court) to decide the representation in accordance with law, rules, regulations and government policies applicable to the facts of the case, as early as possible and practicable.
Case of the Petitioner
A petition was moved by Tarun Chandiok in the nature of public interest litigation with the following prayers:-
A. issue a direction, order or writ, including a writ in the nature of mandamus against the Respondents thereby, enjoining them to interdict access of internet content involving websites and mobile application ("apps") facilitating proscribed "gaming", whether in the name of online fantasy gaming or skill monetization or game of skill, within the meaning of the Public Gambling Act, 1867 and the Delhi Public Gambling Act, 1955; and
B. issue a direction, order or writ, including a writ in the nature of mandamus against the Respondents thereby directing them to restrain broadcasters, television channels, radio, internet companies, etc. from running advertisements, campaigns, endorsements, promotional features, etc. apropos of such illegally run gaming websites and/or mobile applications insofar as it offends the provisions of the Public Gambling Act, 1867 and the Delhi Public Gambling Act, 1955; and
C. issue a direction, order or writ, including a writ in the nature of mandamus against the Respondents thereby, directing them to initiate apposite penal action consistent with offences envisaged under the provisions of the Public Gambling Act, 1867 and the Delhi Public Gambling Act, 1955 against the violators/offenders; and
D. Issue a direction, order or writ, including a writ in the nature of mandamus against the Respondents thereby, directing them to formulate a policy and constitute a Gaming Commission as much in order to comprehensively regulate and redress the grievances of online players as to guard the interests of minor children and impressionable youth up to a certain age from the long shadow such engagement is well known to cast;and/or
Having heard the counsel for both the sides and looking to the facts and circumstances of the case and also considering the fact that earlier the High Court had disposed of a petition of similar nature, i.e. W.P.(C) No.5661/2019 vide its order dated 28.11.2019, the Court directed the respondents to treat this petition as a representation and decide the grievances ventilated in this petition, as narrated in detail in this writ petition.
According to a report by Press Trust of India (PTI), the Petitioner submitted before the Court that a representation was made to the Centre and Delhi government in September and the latter had responded by saying that the matter had been forwarded to Delhi Transport Minister Kailash Gahlot who also holds the Information and Technology portfolio.
Thereafter, no information was received, it was submitted.
Some of the mobile gaming apps, which allegedly facilitate online gambling, that have been referred to in the petition are -- Adda52 Poker, PokerStars, Zynga Poker, Teen Patti Gold, Poker Rummy and Texas Hold 'em Poker.
The petitioner had contended that these are games of chance and involve no skill and therefore, ought to be prohibited in accordance with the anti-gambling laws.
However, the bench observed, "There is some amount of skill involved in every game."
Recently, the Gujarat High Court has observed that the present legal framework in reference to gambling should be regulated to include virtual/ online/ Cyberspace gambling.
The Bench of Chief Justice Vikram Nath and Justice JB Pardiwala has directed the State Government to consider a PIL, seeking regulation of online gambling, as a representation, and do the needful in the "larger public interest".
"We direct the State of Gujarat to consider this writ application as a representation. If online games involve gambling and if they are being played in the State of Gujarat, then it is expected of the State to deal with the same appropriately as gaming is a subject matter of List II of the Schedule VII of the Constitution of India," the Bench observed.
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