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BJP supports online gambling ban but backs TN guv over ordinance expiry row


BJP’s Tamil Nadu president K Annamalai, who met the governor on Tuesday, said he has conveyed to the latter that the party’s position is in favour of banning online gambling, the ordinance related to which has expired due to governor RN Ravi’s delay in approving the Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Online Gambling and Regulation of Online Games.

“We cannot have people getting addicted to online gambling and losing their lives,” Annamalai said. However, he added that a “badly-enacted law is as good as no law.”

“The Tamil Nadu government has not even issued a government order based on the ordinance. They are only stating that it has lapsed. A governor has to consider multiple factors because the Supreme Court and the Madras high court have weighed in on this,” he said.

“The Governor did not say this but that’s our understanding. Also, there is a technical aspect if a state government can wade into cyberspace which is wholly in the union list entry number 31 under the Union government.”

The ruling DMK government had passed this in the legislative assembly citing an increase in suicides by people in debt and those losing money while playing online games with stakes. It has the unanimous support of the Opposition parties.

The state law minister S Ragupathy said six weeks have lapsed after the assembly passed the ordinance on October 17, so it has expired, leading to a fresh bout of criticism against the governor.

Just last week, the governor’s office sought clarification on the ordinance and the state responded within 24 hours. “He (the governor) had some queries and we gave the answers within a day. We were expecting him to agree after that but there was no response,” the law minister had said on Monday.

The Raj Bhavan sent queries last Thursday and the state responded on Friday. “Games are not completely banned but have been differentiated as game of chance and game of skill. Only online gambling is banned. So, it is a proportional restriction,” the minister had said on Friday.

Tamil Nadu had established a committee led by former Madras high court justice K Chandru to study the impact of online games with stakes and in June, the panel recommended a ban on online gambling.

The issue has worsened the relationship between the governor and the ruling government. Earlier this month, the ruling Secular Progressive Alliance had written to President Droupadi Murmu to remove the governor listing about 20 Bills that were sent to him but he didn’t act on them.

DMK MP Kanimozhi Karunanidhi told the media that the governor’s post is “unnecessary”.

“If there is no governor’s post, many conflicts will be resolved. I don’t know why they are intent on protecting online gambling,” Kanimozhi said.



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