Counter affidavit says there are well laid down procedures for blocking objectionable websites under the Information Technology Act of 2000 and hence the PIL petition need not be entertained.

The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) under the Union Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY) on Tuesday urged the Madras High Court to dismiss a public interest litigation petition filed against online gambling.

In a counter affidavit filed before Justices M.M. Sundresh and R. Hemalatha, the department said there were well laid down procedures for blocking objectionable websites under the Information Technology Act of 2000 and hence the PIL petition need not be entertained.

The counter was filed in response to the petition filed by advocate A.P. Suryaprakasam who sought for a direction to the Centre as well as State government to block all online gambling websites and prosecute those who were running such websites.

T.G. Srinivas, Director (Administration), DoT, told the court that the Information Technology (Procedures and Safeguards for blocking for access of information by public) Rules of 2009 lay down the procedures to be adopted for blocking websites.

Under the rules, the Group Coordinator of Cyber Law Division under the Department of Information Technology had been authorised to act as the Designated Officer empowered to order the blocking of websites on grounds listed under the Act.

It was further brought to the notice of the court that Section 69A of the IT Act provided for blocking websites if the officials were satisfied that it was expedient to do so in the interest of sovereignty, integrity, defence or security of the country.

The websites could also be blocked in the interest of maintaining friendly relations with foreign countries, for maintaining public order or to prevent commission of any cognisable offence in relation to the grounds mentioned above, Mr. Srinivas said.

“It is submitted that from the above factors, there is a procedure contemplated for blocking of access by the public. It is therefore prayed that this honourable court may be pleased to take it into consideration and dismiss the writ petition,” he added.

After taking the counter on file, the judges directed the State government too to file its counter affidavit and adjourned the case to the last week of this month.

They also accepted a request made by senior counsel P.S. Raman to permit the owners of online rummy websites to get impleaded in the case and make their submissions. He said all the owners whom he represented were Indians and they were subject to taxation.

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