The Tamil Nadu Cabinet has decided to send the Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Online Gambling and Regulation of Online Games Bill once again to the State Governor RN Ravi, adding a new twist to the ongoing row between the DMK government and the Governor.
The meeting was presided over by Chief Minister MK Stalin. Tamil Nadu Law Minister S. Regupathy stated this on Thursday (March 9). Forty-seven persons had so far died by suicide after losing money heavily through online rummy activity, including 18 persons in the last four months.
Commonly known as the Online Rummy Bill, it has been tossed around from the Tamil Nadu government/State Assembly to the Raj Bhavan and back. The Governor, once instead of providing assent, bought time by seeking some clarifications. The State Law minister had sent the clarifications by mail as the Governor did not initially provide an appointment to the State Government’s legal team.
Also read: Tamil Nadu: Raj Bhavan returns Bill banning online rummy
On Wednesday, the Governor had sent the Bill back to the government, claiming that the State Assembly did not have the legislative competence to enact such a piece of legislation.
Tamil Nadu Law Minister S Regupathy on Thursday said that Governor Ravi will have no option but to give his assent to the Bill proposing a ban on online rummy if the State Assembly decided to re-adopt it and sent it to him again. Following Thursday’s Cabinet decision, the Assembly session is due to commence on March 20, and therefore the Bill could come up before the House to be passed once again. Once that happens, and the Bill is again sent to the Raj Bhavan, the Governor, under the Constitution, would have to provide assent, Reghupathy said.
The minister made the statement while responding to queries from presspersons about the Governor returning the Bill.
Also read: Tamil Nadu bans online rummy and poker games after Governor’s nod
He also clarified that the Governor has returned the Bill for the first time and not the second time. Earlier, the Governor had raised some queries on the Bill and the State government had clarified them, he added.
Reghupathy said the Governor had given his assent to the ordinance to ban online rummy and that his predecessor had also given his assent to the legislation enacted by the previous AIADMK government to ban it.
“When that legislation was challenged before the court, the court had merely referred to certain shortcomings and said that the State government could enact fresh legislation after removing them. The court had not stated that the State Assembly had no legislative competence to enact such an Act,” the minister pointed out.
Later, the DMK government enacted fresh legislation and sent it to the Governor for his assent, Regupathy added.
On Wednesday, the Governor returned the Bill claiming that the state legislature lacked legislative competence to pass such a bill.
Several parties on Thursday urged the Governor to provide his assent and said he would have no option once the Assembly passed the Bill again.
Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) president Anbumani Ramadoss condemned the Governor for returning the Bill. If the Governor has said that the State Legislature had no legislative competence to pass such a Bill, such a statement is condemnable, he said, adding that it belittled the Tamil Nadu Assembly.
The PMK president added that there was no clause in the Constitution that said the State government had no legislative competence to enact such legislation.
Already, more than 10 States including Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Kerala, Karnataka, Odisha, Sikkim, Nagaland, and Meghalaya have enacted legislation to ban online rummy.
Anbumani said the Union Information Technology Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw clarified in the Lok Sabha that the State governments had legislative powers to enact legislation to ban online rummy, and the Madras High Court had also expressed such a view. The PMK chief said he was at a loss to know why the Governor had said the State Assembly had no legislative competence to enact such a law. He suspected ulterior motives behind this action by the Governor.
CPM and CPI leaders also condemned the Governor’s action of returning the Bill and hoped that he would approve of the Bill once the Assembly passed the Bill again.
Besides, had the Governor strongly believed that the State Assembly had no legislative competence to enact a law to ban online rummy, he should have returned the Bill on October 19 last year when it was sent for his assent, Ramadoss opined
“Why did he keep the Bill on the back burner for 142 days?” the PMK president asked while pointing out that the same Governor had given his assent to the ordinance to ban online rummy without questioning the legislative competence of the State government then.
The Governor must take responsibility for the deaths of these 18 persons and the plight of their families, Anbumani said.