DMK trends #GetOutRavi after Tamil Nadu Governor RN Ravi delays bill banning online gambling

The bill banning online gambling is one among the 20 passed by the Assembly that were pending with the Governor as on 31 October.

ByShilpa Nair

Published Dec 02, 2022 | 4:24 AM Updated Dec 02, 2022 | 4:25 AM

Governor RN Ravi

Amid the ongoing tussle between the DMK government in Tamil Nadu and Governor RN Ravi, the IT wing of the ruling party on Thursday, 1 November, trended the hashtag “#GetOutRavi” on Twitter over the delay shown by the Governor in granting assent to the bill prohibiting online gambling and regulating online games in the state.

The bill was passed by the Tamil Nadu Assembly on 19 October in order to replace the ordinance promulgated to the same effect by the Governor on 3 October.

Even though Ravi promulgated the ordinance immediately after it was sent to him by the Law Department, he is yet to grant assent to the bill as he has raised certain doubts over the piece of legislation.

Despite the Tamil Nadu government providing clarifications within 24 hours of receiving the Governor’s letter with his queries on 25 November, the bill is still under his consideration.

On Thursday, after waiting for around 10 days for an appointment, the state’s Law Minister S Reghupathy and senior officials from the government called on the Governor at the Raj Bhavan requesting him to give assent to the bill immediately as the ordinance had lapsed.

As per the norms, an ordinance would cease to operate after a lapse of six weeks from the date of commencement of the last Assembly session.

In the current case, the Assembly session began on 17 October and the ordinance lapsed on 27 November, the last day of the six-week period.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, the law minister said that the Governor assured them of granting assent to the bill once he cleared all the doubts pertaining to it.

It may be noted that the bill banning online gambling was one among the 20 bills passed by the Assembly that were pending with the Governor as on 31 October.

A memorandum demanding the immediate withdrawal of RN Ravi as the Governor of Tamil Nadu has already been submitted to President Droupadi Murmu by MPs belonging to the DMK-led Secular Progressive Alliance over these issues and other controversial remarks made by him.

Another suicide over online games?

Even as the state government awaited the Governor’s nod to frame rules regarding the prohibition of online gambling and regulation of online games, a 26-year-old auto-rickshaw driver named Parthiban died by suicide near Chennai on Tuesday after he allegedly lost ₹50,000 by playing online games.

This incident triggered sharp reactions from several political parties in the state, with many of them slamming the Governor for delaying his assent to the bill.

One of the main reasons Tamil Nadu enacted such a law for the second time — after a similar law was struck down by the Madras High Court in August 2021 — is at least 25 people have died by suicide so far in the state after losing money to online gambling and other online games.

“Online gambling addiction has led to many persons incurring unsustainable debts, which in several cases led to deaths by suicide. The financial distress caused by such debt has also ruined many families. These issues affected the public order,” the government stated in its explanatory statement on the ordinance.

Mounting pressure on Governor

Apart from taking on the Governor on social media platforms, the DMK also slammed his actions through its mouthpiece Murasoli.

On Wednesday, the party newspaper published an editorial in which it said the delay caused by the Governor in giving assent to the bill against online gambling was seen as “suspicious” by the general public.

The editorial added that the doubts raised by the Governor were just delaying tactics, and further claimed that the piece of legislation was well within the Constitutional framework.

The alliance parties of the DMK have also been mounting political attacks against the Governor.

On Thursday, the Dravidar Kazhagam, the ideological parent body of the DMK, staged a protest outside the Raj Bhavan against the controversial actions of Ravi. The MDMK also extended its support to the protest.

Additionally, several other political parties like the PMK and the AMMK have been urging the Governor to grant assent for the bill.

BJP questions DMK government

Though Tamil Nadu BJP chief K Annamalai said his party supported the law prohibiting online gambling, he questioned the DMK government over why the ordinance was kept unnotified even after it was promulgated by the Governor.

“Six people in Tamil Nadu lost their lives to online gambling between October 8 and November 27 of 2022. This means that online gambling continued despite the ordinance because the state government failed to notify it and waited for it to lapse [sic],” the BJP leader charged in a series of tweets.

Responding to this criticism, Tamil Nadu Law Minister Reghupathy said: “The ordinance was promulgated on 3 October. Rules and regulations had to be formulated as the ordinance envisaged the formation of certain committees.”

He added: “On 5 October, we received information about the next Assembly session. Hence, we wanted to get the bill passed in the Assembly and get the Governor’s assent for it in order to frame the rules.”

The minister then explained: “The ordinance was published in the gazette on the same day. Only a Government Order was not issued. That was not done because we got information about the next Assembly session on 5 October.”