Chennai, Mar 9 (PTI) In a Cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister M K Stalin on Thursday, the Tamil Nadu government decided to pass again a Bill in the Assembly to ban online gambling and send it to Governor R N Ravi once more for his assent.
A day after Ravi returned the TN Prohibition of Online Gambling and Regulation of Online Games Bill stating that it lacked legislative competence, the government asserted that it has the competence to legislate on the matter.
Briefing reporters at the State Secretariat, Law Minister S Regupathy said that it has been decided in the Cabinet meeting to reintroduce the Bill in the Assembly, get it passed and send again to Governor Ravi for his assent.
The TN Assembly would meet on March 20 for Budget presentation and the duration of the session would be decided later.
“Ravi has said that we do not have authority to legislate on this matter. The TN Assembly has competence and we are going to pass the Bill and send it to him.” The Governor is duty bound to give his assent when the Bill is adopted again in the Assembly, he said.
Regupathy cited the Constitution’s State List Entries, 1 (Public order) 6 (Public health), 33 (Sports, entertainments and amusements) and (34 (Betting and gambling) and said that by following such provisions, the Bill was passed by the Assembly on October 19, 2022 and was sent to Governor Ravi for his assent.
The Governor cited Entry 33 and claimed that for the ‘skilled games’ category, the State legislature has no competence and has sent back the Bill and it is unacceptable, the Minister said.
The government had already clarified that the law is to ban online gambling and it has got nothing to do with ‘skilled games.’ Games of skill are held physically which rules out scope for irregularities or duping. However, online card games involving gambling is entirely different as it programmed. It facilitates automatic manipulation of any card and hence it is important to ban online gambling. This has been made amply clear. Also, the distinction between online and offline games has been underscored, he said.
Regupathy said that when Ravi sought certain clarifications it was given. However, the Governor has still returned the Bill stating that the legislature lacked competence to enact a law on this matter.
It is well known that the State legislature has competence on the matter and Governor Ravi had himself given his concurrence for an ordinance to ban onling gambling and it was duly promulgated.
The ordinance was promulgated after the HC had struck down on August 3, 2021 the provisions of the Tamil Nadu Gaming and Police Laws (Amendment) Act 2021, which banned wager or placing bet in cyber space. Such provisions were held by the High Court as ultra vires the Constitution.
The court had struck down the amendment Act for other deficiencies and not on the premise of competence of legislature, he said.
The court had then made it clear that there was no bar on the State legislature in coming up with a fresh Bill to ban online gambling.
Though the HC made it clear that the Tamil Nadu Assembly has competence to enact a law to ban online gambling, the Governor is claiming that the legislature does not have it, the Minister said.
Several people died by suicide in Tamil Nadu after losing money by playing online, card games like Rummy and Poker. It led to a sense of outrage and demands from political parties and people to get it banned. Telangana is among States that have banned online Rummy. PTI VGN COR VGN KH KH
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