The Chief Minister Stalin said 41 people ended their lives after losing money in online gambling.
The Tamil Nadu Assembly on Thursday once again unanimously adopted the bill to ban online gambling, weeks after state Governor R N Ravi returned it to the government for reconsideration.
Piloting The Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Online Gambling and Regulation of Online Games Bill, Chief Minister M K Stalin said he was moving it with a "heavy heart" while referring to the loss of lives associated with online gambling.
Speaker M Appavu read out a letter from Governor Ravi giving reasons for returning the bill. The letter to the Speaker said the Assembly had "no legislative competence," and the bill went against "several judicial pronouncements." Noted senior advocate Arvind Datar said the Governor was duty bound to give his assent for the bill passed by the Assembly. "He should have given his assent the first time itself," he told PTI.
Chief Minister Stalin told the Assembly that 41 people had ended their lives after losing money excessively in online gambling. He referred to a youth, Sureshkumar, who died by suicide after losing upto Rs 17 lakh gambling in online Rummy. In his suicide note, he pleaded for a ban on online Rummy.
Stalin also referred to another person, who too ended his life after leaving a similar suicide note. "These deaths are happening in front of our eyes. This government, which has the law in its hands, has the duty and responsibility to stop this," the Chief Minister said.
Realising this responsibiliity, the government had set up a panel led by retired judge of the Madras High Court Justice K Chandru for advising the government on drafting a new law to ban online gambling, and the committee presented its report.
Following several other measures, including a survey conducted by the School Education department and a public hearing, all of which strongly favoured banning online gambling, an ordinance was promulgated on October 1, 2022 by Governor Ravi and it was duly notified.
To replace the ordinance, a bill was adopted on October 19, 2022 in the Assembly and it was sent to the Governor on October 26 last year for his assent.
"Instead of giving his assent immediately, he sought some clarifications on November 23, 2022," Stalin said. In 24 hours, an explanation was sent to him, and Law Minister S Regupathy called on him and again provided answers. However, after 131 days the bill was returned to Speaker Appavu with some notes, he added.
"This bill was drafted not only with knowledge but also with a heart," he said and appealed to the House that it be adopted unanimously. On the point of the Governor that the legislature had no competence to pass such a bill to ban online gambling, he asserted that the State government/legislature did have the right and competence required.
The CM quoted Union Sports Minister Anurag Thakur's reply in Parliament to DMK MP S R Parthiban's query on whether State governments have the power to enact a law to ban online gambling, since betting and gambling fall under the Constitution's State List Entry 34.
MLAs spoke on the bill expressing their support and opposing Governor Ravi for returning it. Principal opposition party AIADMK also backed the bill.
When the bill is adopted for the second time by the House and sent again to the Governor, he must give his assent and he cannot decline to do so, and that is the law and Ravi too knew that aspect, PMK's G K Mani said.
BJP's Nainar Nagendran said there was no doubt that online gambling should be done away with. However, he said an expert panel should be constituted to study the matter again. He also objected to remarks by some MLAs about the Governor, in connection with matters related to the online gambling bill.
Following discussions, the bill was passed by voice vote and the Speaker declared it (The Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Online Gambling and Regulation of Online Games Bill) as having been adopted unanimously.
Meanwhile, the rift in the opposition AIADMK over the leadership issue cropped up in the House when Leader of Opposition K Palaniswami objected to the Speaker allowing deposed leader O Panneerselvam to speak on the issue, and it led to a din. Panneerselvam said he welcomed the bill on behalf of the AIADMK.
Backed by AIADMK MLAs supporting him, Palaniswami argued with the Speaker asking how he could allow Panneerselvam since he had said that only one member per party would be allowed to speak on the bill. MLAs supporting Palaniswami and Panneerselvam then engaged in a verbal duel.
Appavu told the opposition legislators that he didn't refer to Panneerselvam as an AIADMK member but allowed him to speak considering his standing as a former chief minister.
Raj Bhavan had recently returned the bill to the House for its 'consideration once again'. An ordinance (prohibiting online gambling, wager-based online games of chance of Rummy and Poker) was promulgated by Governor Ravi on October 1, 2022 and a gazette notification was made by the government on October 3. The Tamil Nadu Assembly later passed a bill to replace that ordinance.
The adoption of the bill was necessitated after the Madras High Court struck down in August 2021 the provisions of the Tamil Nadu Gaming and Police Laws (Amendment) Act 2021 which banned wager or placing bets in cyber space. PTI VGN SA VGN ANE VGN HDA
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)