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PIL in Madras HC seeks arrest of Virat Kohli, Tamannah.

by Snehi Suryash

An advocate has filed a petition before the Madras HC. He seeks the arrest of Indian cricket team captain Virat Kohli and actress Tamannaah Bhatia. Along with other celebrities for endorsing online gambling sites, which is “taking the lives” of “innocent” youngsters. 

The petition is filed by Mr. A P Suryaprakasam, who is a practising advocate. He filed the petition before the Madras High Court on Friday. He charged the celebs with abatement to suicide for misguiding youngsters on the issue of online gambling and endorsing such sites. The Petition is likely to be heard on Tuesday.

Why was the petition filed?

The petition was filed on the heels of a 19-year-old committed suicide and blamed his addiction for online gambling.

 PIL is being filed, sees closure of all online gambling sites. And prosecution of film and other personalities who have been appearing on the advertisements of such sites.

“…It is just and necessary that authorities have to be immediately directed to close all online gambling sites forthwith. And arrest and prosecute Virat Kohli and Tamannaah for their role in abetting the youngsters to gamble online. As playing and abatement to play gambling is a criminal offence,” Suryaprakasam said in his petition.

In his petition, Suryaprakasam submitted that online gambling was unethical and immoral. Also such sites uses prominently personalities to constantly pressurise the youngsters. And brainwash them to “fall in the trap of this evil gambling.”

In his petition, he stated that

online gambling sites are more dangerous than the blue whale game. As, by getting addicted to this gambling, the victim not only spends his money but also their family members’ money. Thus, puts them in a financial burden while in the case of blue whale, the victim alone suffers.

Also the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court suo moto took up a case against the blue whale game. And directed the government to ban it.

Suryaprakasam said initially the youngsters fall into the gambling lured by the initial bonus being offered by these unscrupulous people. And subsequently started to spend their hard-earned money or the hard-earned savings of their family members knowingly or unknowingly.

And when they lose heavily and unable to raise any further resources within their house. These youngsters are forced to borrow at exorbitant rate of interest. And in some cases, they go to the extent of committing crime to raise money to gamble. Subsequently, when they are not able to return or repay the debt they commit suicide. The plea stated.

Justice Pugalendi’s remarks:

A comprehensive regulatory framework by a regulatory body was necessary for online sports and to curb illegal activities as well.

Justice B Pugalendi observed while cautioning that if a youngster losing money in the game turned out to be a criminal it would wreak havoc on the society.

Not only in the State of Tamil Nadu, but also in the entire Country, such online game are mushrooming. E.g. RummyPassion, Nazara, LeoVegas, Spartan Poker, Ace2Three, PokerDangal, Pocket52, My11Circle, Genesis Casino, etc.

He added that the court is not against the virtual games. But, the anguish of this Court is that there should be a regulatory body to monitor and regulate the legal gaming activities. Be it in the real world or the virtual world.

The court cited laws of various states regulating online gaming,

including the Telangana Gaming (Amendment) Act 2017 that prohibits all forms of gaming for money, be it games of skill or games of chance.

In order to explain the modus operandi of online games, the court gave an example. If X and Y want to play a game, both of them have to bet a sum of, say, Rs. 10. The winner will get the amount that he put in place, ie., Rs 10 and in addition to that, he will get an additional sum, say 75 per cent, that was put in place by the opponent, being the prize amount. The balance, ie., 25 per cent, will be credited to the account of the particular online gaming site. The loser will lose everything.

The court hoped to take note of the present alarming situation and pass suitable legislation to regulate and control online gaming through license. Keeping in mind the law of the land as well as the judicial precedents in this regard.