The Madras High Court, on Wednesday, April 26 agreed to hear on April 27 a batch of cases filed by online gaming companies challenging the validity of the Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Online Gambling and Regulation of Online Games Act, 2022, for which Governor R.N. Ravi had granted his assent on April 10 this year.
Justices S. Vaidyanathan and R. Kalaimathi acceded to a request made by Senior Counsel Abhishek Manu Singhvi, for early hearing of the cases since the summer vacation for the High Court begins from May 1, and because the petitioner companies had insisted upon staying the operation of the law forthwith.
The senior judge in the second Division Bench told Mr. Singhvi that the writ petitions would be listed before the first Division Bench of Acting Chief Justice T. Raja and Justice D. Bharatha Chakravarthy on Thursday, if the papers were in order and the cases get numbered by the Registry by today.
The senior counsel made the mention before the second Division Bench, since the ACJ was in Madurai on Wednesday.
A similar law passed during the tenure of the AIADMK regime was stuck down by the High Court in August 2021, on the grounds that there could not be a blanket ban on games of skill.
The then first Division Bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee (since transferred to Meghalaya High Court) and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy had held that a legislation imposing a wide-ranging ban must be regarded as excessive and disproportionate to the object sought to be achieved.
The Bench had however, made it clear that the State legislature would be at liberty to enact a new legislation for regulating online games. Thereafter, the Legislative Assembly passed a Bill in October 2022 for a new law. It did not receive the assent of the Governor at the first instance as he returned it in March 2023.
The Assembly readopted the same Bill and it received his assent in April 2023 leading to the present litigation.