This article is written by – Abhishree Paradkar, Symbiosis Law School, Pune
The Tamil Nadu Gaming and Police Laws (Amendment) Act, 2021 was struck down for being ultra version 3rd August 2021 by the High Court of Madras. The Act imposed a ban on playing cyberspace games such as rummy and poker with stakes. The Tamil Nadu Gaming Act, 1930 had also been amended by the Part II of the Tamil Nadu Gaming and Police Laws (Amendment) Act, 2021.
A division bench led by Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy ruled that including such a blanket ban on playing such games violates Article 19(1)(g) of the Indian Constitution, which guarantees the fundamental right to practice any profession, occupation, trade, or business of one’s choice. This judgment was the result of several petitions being filed in the court, challenging the ban on playing online games so far as online Rummy and Poker were concerned.
While opening on the unconstitutionality of the Amendment Act, the Court stated that the legislation in question can be regarded to be brought into existence by the legislature capriciously and irrationally, without adequately determining principle leading to it being excessive and disproportionate.
The wide range of bans that the Act expects to impose is excessive and disproportionate in comparison to the object that it seeks to achieve. However, the court also highlighted that the State Government is free to introduce new and rational legislation to regulate online games.
The Court also observed that often when the State takes a kind of paternalistic view, it then seeks to legally regulate its citizen’s private lives. This results in conflicts between the authority and desirability of the state to involve itself in legislating on those areas where it views that the individuals or a class of individuals require their private rights and every individual’s freedom of choice to be protected.
Lastly, the words ‘crass and overbearing’ which are used in the Act, portray unreasonableness and arbitrariness. Furthermore, the doctrine of severability would also not apply in the present case as the entire legislation uses the amended definition of ‘gaming’ to such an extent that one cannot separate using the element of certainty concerning which portion of the amendment, the legislature had intended to retain as a valid one.
Hence, the Court declared the entire Tamil Nadu Gaming and Police Laws (Amendment) Act, 2021 as ultra vires and was struck down.
Bhaumik, A. (2021, August 03). ‘Excessive and Disproportionate’: Madras High Court Strikes Down Tamil Nadu’s Law Banning Online Games With Stakes-Read Judgment.
Junglee Games India Private Limited v. State of Tamil Nadu, 3rd August 2021.