MeitY Asserts Centre’s Authority over Online Gaming Regulation in Reply to SOCH’s PIL

In reaction to the Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by the Noida-based NGO Social Organization for Creating Humanity (SOCH) in July, the Centre presented its reply in the Delhi High Court last week.

In the PIL, SOCH raised concerns about the constitutional validity of the 2023 Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Amendment Rules that were instituted to regulate online gaming, labelling them as arbitrary and unconstitutional.

Additionally, the NGO asserted that the implementation of these rules has led to a regulatory ambiguity in the online gaming sector in the country. This has sparked debates regarding the division of powers between the states and the central government in regulating the industry.

However, the Centre has claimed that it, under Entry 31 of List I (Union List) and Entry 97 (residual powers), has the authority to regulate matters pertaining to online gaming. These powers extend beyond state boundaries and are categorized under “Inter-State trade and commerce.”

The rules were drafted and officially announced by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), which clarified that these rules were developed following extensive consultations with both the public and industry stakeholders.

Furthermore, responding to the claims made by the NGO that the government is outsourcing the process of self-regulatory bodies (SRBs) to private entities, the Centre stated that this move would actually enhance the safety and reliability of online gaming platforms.

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