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Delhi HC dismisses PIL on online games addiction among children, asks Centre to decide on representation

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The Delhi High Court on Wednesday refused to entertain a PIL seeking the formulation of a policy protecting children from addiction to online games. 

The Bench, comprising Chief Justice D.N. Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh, was hearing the petition filed highlighting the recent incidents of children committing suicide, or going into depression, as also committing crimes like theft due to online game addiction.

The counsel for the petitioner submitted that there is no policy document spelling out the intent of the Government with respect to tackling the issue of online game addiction among children. He further submitted that various challenges are attached to the issue like cyberbullying, financial exploitation. 

The Bench, while dismissing the petition, directed the Centre and the Ministry of Law and Justice to decide the representation made by the petitioner organisation on July 10 in accordance with law, rules, regulations and governmental policies. 

Filed through Advocates Robin Raju and Deepa Joseph, the PIL was moved by Distress Management Collective, an NGO providing support and humanitarian aid to anyone in distress across borders. 

The plea avers that numerous complaints were received by the petitioner organisation from parents who are concerned about their children getting addicted to online games and as a result, suffering from various psychological problems. A representation dated July 10 was made by the petitioner Trust requesting the constitution of a regulatory body with experts that can trace games that are violent in nature or extract money for playing. 

“It is pertinent to mention that the even Gaming Federations have also openly stated that they are in favour of constituting a regulatory body,” the plea adds.

The plea contends that some individual states like Kerala and Tamil Nadu have considered the issue very seriously and have banned all forms of online games that involve payment.

Also Read: Delhi HC defers hearing plea seeking guidelines for search and seizure at advocates’ premises

The plea sought direction from the Centre to consider formulating a national policy protecting children from online games addiction and to constitute a regulatory authority to monitor and rate the content of both offline and online games. In the alternative, the plea prayed for necessary action be taken on representation dated July 10’ 2021 made by the petitioner Trust.

The plea stated, “The petitioner organization has decided to approach this Hon’ble Court with the instant petition because the issue is of extreme significance especially in the wake of an increase in a number of fatalities caused by online game addiction and more importantly considering the prolonged absence from schools due to the pandemic.”

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