SC notice to online gaming industry body on Karnataka appeal against HC order
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear a plea by the Karnataka government, challenging the Karnataka High Court judgment, which struck down provisions of law prohibiting betting and wagering in online games.
Senior advocates Mukul Rohatgi, A.M Singhvi, and Shyam Divan, represented the gaming companies’ associations, submitted before a bench of Justices S. Abdul Nazeer and V. Ramasubramanian that the issue was whether it was game of skill or chance or gambling.
The Karnataka government contended that cybercrime has become a major issue and cited filing of 28,000 cases in the last three years, while emphasising the need for a law against online gaming to maintain public order. It further argued that people have died by suicide and the online gaming has ruined many families, therefore it was necessary to deal with its ill effects.
The state government’s plea said: “The Karnataka Police (Amendment) Act, 2021 made criminalised wagering, betting or risking money on the unknown result of an event.”
On February 14 this year, the high court struck down the government’s ban and the legal provision which criminalised playing games of skill, including online games, and betting.
The top court issued notice to online gaming industry body All India Gaming Federation and skill-based gaming firms. It directed to tag this matter with a similar matter, where the Tamil Nadu government has challenged the judgment by the Madras High Court.
The Karnataka High Court had said that the Act was unconstitutional and there cannot be any ban on online games of skill. The state government contended before the apex court that the high court had grossly erred in not taking into account the material produced by it in connection with cases registered by the police authorities.