Delhi HC notice to Centre on plea to ban online gambling websites

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Monday issued notice to the Central government on a public suit seeking direction to take steps to ban and prevent online gambling websites from operating in the country.

A division bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Prateek Jalan asked the Centre and 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 PIL, filed by one Avinash Mehrotra represented through advocates Awantika Manohar, Siddharth Iyer and Prashant Kumar, sought directions to the Ministry of Finance to take steps to recover taxes due from both persons who played such online gambling, and more importantly, those who run and operate these websites.

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It also sought an appropriate writ, order or direction, directing the respondents to prosecute the unscrupulous owners/proprietors, and the promoters of the online gambling websites, in accordance with the law.

The plea submitted that gambling or wagering on games of chance is per se illegal according to the laws of our country, and most state legislations have expressly forbidden the same. It sought the quashing of order dated October 21 2020, issued by the Union of India, stating that it does not have the competence to block gambling and betting websites in India.

“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, and a person is free to gamble with cards or bet on the outcome of sport results, etc,” the plea said.

The petitioner also submitted that for the NCT of Delhi gambling has been prohibited by the Delhi Public Gambling Act, 1955 and most states have similar acts in force, which prohibit gambling.

“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 and drive normal people towards economic and financial as well as social ruination,” the plea said.

“Online gambling by itself is an addictive activity, and those currently addicted to this activity, are not in the correct frame of mind, to take steps to protect themselves and the public at large from this menace,” it added.

The petitioner said that he filed the present writ petition in public interest in view of the rising popularity of illicit gambling and illegal online betting taking place in our country.

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