T.N. Law Minister S. Regupathy defends Bill on online gambling as Governor raises questions over the legislation
The Tamil Nadu government on Friday defended the Bill that the Assembly adopted to prohibit online gaming and gambling after Governor R.N. Ravi sought some clarifications.
Addressing reporters at the Secretariat, Law Minister S. Regupathy said the Governor had raised questions over various provisions.
The government received the Raj Bhavan communication on Thursday, and the Law Department sent the explanation within 24 hours, he said.
As for the Governor’s questions whether the Bill was within the provisions of the the Constitution and did not agitate against Article 19(1)(g), the government argued that ‘betting and gambling’, ‘public order’, ‘public health’ and ‘theatres and dramatic performances’ were part of List II (the State List) of the Seventh Schedule. Since the Bill was based on these specific entries, it was not against the constitutional provisions, the Minister said. The preamble of the Bill and pointers from the expert committee specified the reasons for enacting the legislation.
Asked about the Madras High Court’s observations on the scope for the government to have used Entry 34 (betting and gambling) of List II in the earlier legislation, the Minister said Entry 34 had been used on the ground that it was gambling. But he did not go into the specifics.
“While gaming offline, there was chances of knowing who the player is engaging with. But while playing online, there are more chances of the player being cheated and made to lose money, since he is playing a game based on a ‘programme’, and the Bill is framed to ban such games,” Mr. Regupathy argued.
To a question on the High Court’s observations on proportionality, the Minister said, “As for the doctrine of proportionality, there is no complete ban. Games have not been banned in totality. A distinction was made between the game of chance and the game of skill, and only online games have been banned. So, this is a proportional ban.”
The Minister pointed out that the same provisions in the Ordinance (promulgated by the Governor) were part of the Bill that was adopted by the Assembly. He hoped that the Governor would give his assent to the Bill.
When a journalist asked how the Governor could raise questions after having granted assent to the Ordinance, Mr. Regupathy said, “Only he [the Governor] would know.”
Referring to a request for an appointment with the Governor over the Bill, the Minister said, “He has not given [an appointment]. We feel it would be better to meet without any further delay.” The Minister pointed out that Tamil Nadu was the first to bring in legislation for regulation of and a ban on online games, while other States brought in legislation only for a ban.
To a reporter’s question on how he saw the Governor granting an appointment to Leader of the Opposition Edappadi K. Palaniswami, while denying the Law Minister’s request, Mr. Regupathy said, “Only the Governor would know.”