Court Cannot Deal With Matters Based on the Personal Sense of Morality of Individual Complainant: Madras High Court

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Excerpt

A Bench led by Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy, while disposing of the PIL opined that the Petitioner should first approach the government for relief since the matters relating to a question of policy. There is no uncertainty that when there is illegal action or something detrimental to the larger public interest, constitutional courts intervene but, in the matters of the present kind, especially when elected governments are in place, such matters of policy should be left to the wisdom of those representing the people and having their mandate instead of the Court issuing a diktat.

Facts

Petition filed under Article 226 of the Constitution of India for issuance of a Writ of Mandamus directing the Respondents to Ban all the Online and Offline Video games and bring appropriate mechanism to track the PC / Laptop, Mobile phones, etc. the device which could be used for Online classes playing Games. The Petitioner complains of online business enterprises preying on children and young adults by offering various online games that are addictive.

Arguments

The Petitioner says that since mobile phones have completely confiscated our lives and even children and minors crave for and acquire mobile phones, they are exposed to being lured by unscrupulous business enterprises and, particularly during the lockdown when schools and academic institutions are closed, many children and young adults are hooked to the web games. The petitioner perceives the addiction to be devastating and life-threatening within the sense that it destroys the career-building phase of a young adult and even cause suicidal tendencies and extreme anger against parents and elders seeking to see the habit. The intricacies of the menace that the Petitioner complains of and therefore, the larger or long-time effects that these online games wear on children and young adults have not been gone into in any great detail within the present proceedings, even though any scientific material is absent during this regard.

Court’s observation

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The constitutional courts are slow in getting into such areas and handling such matters on the private sense of morality of the individual complainant or the Judge or Judges concerned. There are questions raised when there is some illegal action or something detrimental to the larger public interest, constitutional courts intervene; but within the matters of this kind, especially when elected governments are involved, such matters of policy should be left to the wisdom of these representing the people and having their mandate rather than the Court issuing a diktat. It is only upon the failure of the chief to act and, thereupon, the Court perceiving the interest to be a danger to society, that the Court needs to step in. The minimum is at the initial stage, the duty of the Court is to direct the complainants to the executive for a more wholesome and studied policy decision to be taken by the executive than what could also be possible before any Court.

Court’s decision

This case is disposed of by permitting the Petitioner to form representations to the Union of India through its Ministry of Women and Child Development and to the State through the Department appeared to be the foremost appropriate by the Petitioner. Such representations could also be made within four weeks from date to the Secretaries within the relevant departments and copies of this order forwarded to them for such Secretaries to administer their due consideration to the matter and indicate the government to stand thereon to the Petitioner within eight weeks of the receipt of the relevant representations. The court further said that the Petitioner should first approach the government for relief because the matter is related to an issue of policy. The Court specified that if it causes any failure due to the administration while dealing with the matters of public interest only then can the Judiciary step in.

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