On Monday, the High Court of Delhi issued notice to the Central Govt on a public suit seeking direction to take steps to ban & prevent online gambling websites from operating in the country.
A division bench of Chief Justice DN Patel & Justice Prateek Jalan asked the Centre & other to file reply on the public interest litigation seeking direction to the Ministry of Information Technology to exercise its powers under sections of the Information Technology Act, 2000, to prevent online gambling websites.
The Public Interest Litigation , filed by one Avinash Mehrotra represented through advocates Awantika Manohar, Siddharth Iyer & Prashant Kumar, sought directions to the Ministry of Finance to take steps to recover taxes due from both persons who played such online gambling, & more importantly, those who run & operate these websites.
It also sought an appropriate writ, order or direction, directing the respondents to prosecute the unscrupulous owners/proprietors, & the promoters of the online gambling websites, in accordance with the law.
The petition submitted that gambling or wagering on games of chance is per se illegal according to the laws of our country, & most state legislations have expressly forbidden the same. It sought the quashing of order dated Oct 21 2020, issued by the Union of India, saying that it doesn’t have the competence to block gambling & betting websites in India.
The appeal said that “It is submitted that despite the presence of these provisions, a large number of websites can be accessed in the territory of India, through appropriate devices, & a person is free to gamble with cards or bet on the outcome of sport results, etc”.
The petitioner also submitted that for the NCT of Delhi gambling has been prohibited by the Delhi Public Gambling Act, 1955 & most states have similar acts in force, which prohibit gambling.
The plea stated, “It is submitted that all these activities, though expressly prohibited by law, are being carried out because of a lack of enforcement of the laws in question. Thus, despite being per se illegal these gambling websites are being permitted to operate & drive normal people towards economic & financial as well as social ruination”.
It added that “Online gambling by itself is an addictive activity, & those currently addicted to this activity, are not in the correct frame of mind, to take steps to protect themselves & the public at large from this menace”.
The petitioner said that he filed the present writ petition in public interest in view of the rising popularity of illicit gambling & illegal online betting taking place in our country.