Online Gaming Company Moves Madras HC Alleging Harassment By Police

Online Gaming Company PlayGames 24x7 Moves Madras HC Alleging Harassment By The TN Police Following Gamer's Suicide

The Madras High Court issued a notice to the Tamil Nadu police on Friday in response to a petition filed by an online gaming company alleging that the city police’s crime branch was harassing it in the name of probe into a person’s suicide.

Justice G Chandrasekharan ordered the Tamil Nadu government and the crime branch, CID, metro wing of the Chennai police to respond to the company PlayGames 24×7’s petition by March 14.

The petitioner-company informed the Court that it had received a notice from the crime branch last year informing it that an investigation was being conducted under Section 174 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) into the death of one Manikandan, who died by suicide on January 2, 2022, allegedly after playing the online game.

On February 24, this year, the crime branch sent another notice to the petitioner informing that it had been charged under Section 302 of the IPC in connection with Manikandan’s death. The crime branch asked the company’s official to appear before it and requested several documents and other information from them.

PlayGames informed the Court that despite cooperating with the crime branch’s investigation throughout, PlayGames claims that the respondent probe agency has been harassing it and its employees.

It further added that the crime branch was demanding completely irrelevant information on a very short notice.

According to PlayGames, the crime branch was sending emails to the company and repeated reminder messages on WhatsApp to its employees, as well as asking for confidential information relating to its operations and personal information about key managerial personnel.

The petitioner also argued that charging it with murder under Section 302 of the IPC and demanding irrelevant information is an abuse of power on the part of the State agency and an attempt to achieve indirectly what the State has failed to achieve directly, i.e., a total ban on online gaming.

PlayGames also informed the Court that, while Manikandan died on January 2, 2022, he last logged on to the company’s “gaming circle” known as “Rummy Circle” on April 6, 2017, almost five years before his death.

Therefore, the company was not responsible for Manikandan’s suicide, and the crime branch was conducting a fishing expedition under the guise of an investigation, it stated in its petition.

As a result, PlayGames asked the Court to dismiss the February 24 notice and order the respondents not to harass the company or its employees.

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About the Author: Isha Das