By Shivani Bazaz
The central government has submitted its response to the Delhi High Court in the case brought by the Social Organization for Creating Humanity (SOCH). The NGO had challenged the constitutional and legislative validity of the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Amendment Rules, 2023, which aim to regulate online gaming.
In a robust defence of its legislative competence, the government cites the Constitution of India, asserting its authority under Entry 31 of List I (Union List) and Entry 97 (residual powers) to regulate matters of online gaming, which transcends state boundaries and falls within the realm of 'Inter-State trade and commerce'.
The government's response comes after SOCH contended that these rules exceeded the central government's legislative competence and resulted in regulatory confusion. The case has raised questions about the division of powers between the central and state governments regarding online gaming regulation.
Labeling the plea as a proxy litigation, the government's reply contends that SOCH lacks the necessary legal standing to challenge the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Amendment Rules, 2023. The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) emphasises that the rules were framed after comprehensive stakeholder consultations and that the MeitY had allowed for public commentary on the draft rules, a process in which SOCH did not participate.
The central government also contended that the NGO's claim of outsourcing regulatory responsibilities, clarifying that the formation of self-regulatory bodies (SRBs) is part of a larger framework intended to bolster the safety and integrity of online gaming platforms.