The Bombay High Court on Friday directed the secretary of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology to review the content of the online game, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG), and if any objectionable content is found, action can be taken against the service provider.
A Division Bench of Chief Justice Pradeep Nandrajog and N.M. Jamdar was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Ahad Tanveer Nizam through his mother Mariam Nizam and advocate Tanveer Nizam, seeking a ban on the online game across schools in Maharashtra.
The PIL said that in 2017, PUBG, an online multiplayer battle royale game, was launched. It is developed and published by the PUBG Corporation, a subsidiary of South Korean video game company Bluehole. It is hosted by Microsoft Windows, Xbox One, Android iOS, and PlayStation 4.
The PIL explained that the game has up to 100 players who parachute onto an island and scavenge for weapons and equipment to kill others while avoiding getting killed. The available safe area of the game’s map decreases in size over time, directing surviving players into tighter areas to force encounters. The last player or team standing wins the rounds. The plea said it promotes immoral conduct such as violence, murder, aggression, looting, gaming addiction, and cyber bullying. It also said that PUBG was banned in responsible and progressive States of Karnataka and Gujarat lately, and sought a ban in Maharashtra too.
Government pleader Poornima Kantharia said schools cannot be directed to prohibit the game as schools don’t allow it in the first place.
The court asked, “How can you say schools should ban the game? Schools would say they don’t allow it. If parents are permitting their children to access mobiles and play such games then what will the schools do?”
The Bench observed, “We are also parents, and the parents have to ensure that their children are kept away from the game.”
The court then directed the secretary of the IT ministry to review the game and take action against the service provider if it finds some objectionable content. The matter is adjourned till July.