The bench comprising Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy struck down the amendment after noting that the legislation assailed has to be regarded as something done capriciously, irrationally and which was excessive and disproportionate.
“The wide-ranging blanket ban on online games with stakes has completely failed to meet the ‘least intrusive measure test’ and hence falls foul of Article 19 (1) (g) of the Constitution (Right to practice any profession, trade or business),” the bench held along with noting that the amending Act is disproportionate to the object and ultra vires the Constitution.
However, the court made it clear that nothing in this order will prevent the Tamil Nadu government from introducing an appropriate legislation on the issue conforming to Constitutional principles of propriety in the field of betting and gambling.
The bench, in its order, also held that while games in the physical form cannot be equated with games conducted on the virtual mode or in cyberspace, in card games or board games such as chess or scrabble, there is no distinction between the skill involved in the physical or in the virtual form.
“Arnold Palmer or Severiano Ballesteros may never have mastered how golf is played on the computer but Viswanathan Anand or Omar Sharif would not be so disadvantaged when playing their chosen games of skill in virtual mode. Such distinction is completely lost in the Amending Act as the original scheme in the Act of 1930 of confining gaming to games of chance has been turned upside down, the court observed.
The Part II of the Tamil Nadu Gaming and Police Laws (Amendment) Act, 2021, which has now been declared unconstitutional had banned wagering in cyberspace and also games of skill if played for a wager, bet, money or other stakes.