‘No doubt kids addicted to phones but…’: Court declines plea to ban video games
The Madras high court on Thursday declined to entertain a plea that wanted a ban on all online and offline video games, observing that elected governments were the appropriate authority to take a policy decision on concerns around the addiction of children and young adults to these games.
A bench of chief justice Sanjib Banerjee and justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy said the courts would intervene if there is some illegal action or if something is detrimental to the larger public interest. But given the present situation, they didn’t want to issue a diktat but would leave a decision to the wisdom of the people’s elected representatives.
The court clarified that this order will not prevent any similar complaints in the future if executive action isn’t forthcoming.
“There is no doubt that children and young adults these days are addicted to their phones and their worlds appear to revolve around their mobile phones,” the court said.
“Oftentimes, a family could be together and sitting at a table but each member using the phone, even if to describe the dish that he may be having or the quality of food at the moment.”
The court asked E Martin Jayakumar, who petitioned the high court, to approach the Union and state government within four weeks and told the authorities to indicate the government’s stance on the issue within eight weeks of receiving his representation.
The bench said even constitutional courts should be slow in entering into such areas and dealing with such matters on the personal sense of morality of the individual complainant or of the judge or judges concerned.
“It is only upon the failure of the executive to act and, thereupon, the court perceiving the matter to be a danger to society, that the court ought to step in. At least 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 may be possible before any court,” the bench led by chief justice Banerjee said.
The petition wanted the court to ban all video games, online or offline, and to bring appropriate mechanisms to track computers, laptops, mobile phones and other devices used for playing games.
The petitioner said children were being lured by unscrupulous business enterprises particularly during the lockdown since educational institutions are closed and described the addiction to video games as devastating and life-threatening since it destroys the career-building phase of a young adult.