Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Delhi HC seeks Centre’s stand on PIL filed against online gaming rules

The Delhi High Court on Thursday sought Centre’s stand on a PIL contesting the constitutional validity of the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Amendment Rules, 2023 (IT Amendment Rules) concerning their applicability to the regulation of online gaming.

A division bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Sanjeev Narula was dealing with a petition filed by Noida-based NGO Social Organisation for Creating Humanity (SOCH).

However, Additional Solicitor General Chetan Sharma said that it was not a PIL but a “proxy personalised” litigation.

The petitioner contended that state government was the competent authority and not the Centre to regulate online gaming.

As petitioner’s counsel said that the activity has to be regulated by an independent entity, ASG Sharma questioned if an NGO can challenge the competence of the Centre to legislate by filing a PIL.

Saying that the Centre’s stand will be filed, he said: “We will place the material on record.”
The court then listed the matter for further hearing on September 21.

During the previous hearing, the court had asked ASG Sharma to provide assistance in the case.

In the plea, the petitioner has said that there should not only be effective control and regulation of online games and gambling or betting activities but there should also be an effective mechanism for such regulatory measures and that the same should conform to the four corners of powers granted under the Constitution and other legislative provisions.

“The impugned rules neither conform to the constitutional provisions nor are effective to control online gaming activities which are growing in an untrammeled manner at an explosive pace, especially after lockdowns and the Covid-19 pandemic,” the plea said.

“Therefore, the exercise of power by the respondent in this manner, to enact and notify the impugned rules, which are ex-facie ultra vires the Constitution and the IT Act is against public interest, and a drain on the public exchequer, whilst, failing to effectively tackle the menace of online gambling, which has engulfed the nation’s youth,” it further read.

Consequently, the petitioner seeks a writ of certiorari or any other appropriate order to declare the IT Amendment Rules, 2023 as unconstitutional and beyond the scope of the Information Technology Act, 2000.

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