SC asks Centre to make kids aware of dangers of games like Blue Whale Challenge, directs chief secretaries to issue guidelines

The Supreme Court on Monday asked the Centre to make children aware of the dangers of games such as the Blue Whale Challenge, media reports said. According to the report, the apex court has directed chief secretaries in every state to issue guidelines to schools.

The court also said that children should be made aware that such games should be 'compulsorily avoided,' The Hindu reported.

The Times of India reported that the bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice AM Khanwilkar and Justice DY Chandrachud asked education departments to issue appropriate guidelines to schools and counsel parents and children on the dangers of the game. "The beauty of life is not to meet with the beauty of death, but to keep death away," the bench said adding that "parental care, concern, love, instilling a sense of optimism in children" will keep them away from searching such games.

"We direct all the chief secretaries of states to issue directions to concerned departments to make children aware about the dangers of games like Blue Whale Challenge," the bench said and disposed of the PIL that had sought framing of guidelines to regulate online digital games.

The children should not be made aware about the games, but "the beauty of life", the court said, adding that the state governments, while issuing advisory, should keep in mind the CBSE's guidelines on "Safe and Effective Use of Internet and Digital Technologies in Schools and School Busses".

The guidelines require schools to promote a safe and secure educational environment for effective teaching and learning and discouraging students from actions detrimental to themselves, their peers and the value system.

The latest Supreme Court order came in response to a public interest litigation, which sought to curb or ban games like the Blue Whale Challenge. The plea also urged the Supreme Court to direct the government to remove such content from websites and issue guidelines for parents and children.

The report added that the apex court also asked the Centre as well as the state governments to work together on the issue.

File image of the Supreme Court. Reuters

File image of the Supreme Court. Reuters

However, the government in its affidavit claimed that it will be unable to stop the spread of such games as they are being transmitted through WhatsApp, CNN-News18 reported. The government also told the apex court that it cannot ban such killer games as they are not app-based, according to The Times of India report.

Attorney General KK Venugopal and Additional Solicitor General PS Narasimha, appearing for the Centre, apprised the court about the interim report of a committee, which was set to enquire into recent cases of suicides of children who allegedly got trapped and played the Blue Whale Game.

Venugopal said a high-level meeting was convened in which senior scientists and police officials took part and took some decisions.

It has been decided to establish a monitoring cell to keep a watch on such programmes and block concerned sites. A high-level committee would investigate all cases of alleged suicides or attempted suicides, the top law officer said.

The ASG said Blue Whale Challenge Game was shared among a secretive group on social media networks and players cannot stop playing once they start and it ends on the 50th day, leading the player to commit suicide.

He said the Blue Whale game has no formal application and it does not contain internet protocol or URL address which are required to block or remove it.

Senior advocate Vijay Hansaria, appearing for advocate Sneha Kalita who has filed the PIL, said a dedicated team of scientists be constituted to suggest technical solutions against such gaming.

The court allowed Hansaria to suggest names of such scientists to the government for their inclusion in the panel, besides giving suggestions to curb the menace of such games.

The Centre also expressed a possibility that some of the suicides of children could be due to the fear of failure in examinations, peer pressure, depression or such other reasons, according to The Hindu report.

This is not the first time that the first time that the apex court has intervened on the issue. On 27 October, it had called such games "national problems".

An apex court had also directed the government to make a 10-minute educational TV show on the perils of the game. “The TV show should be ready in a week and be aired on Doordarshan and all private channels on prime time,” News18 quoted the apex court as saying.

Earlier in September, a 73-year-old advocate from Madurai, NS Ponnaiah, had approached the Supreme Court seeking a ban on the internet-based suicide game that has been linked to the deaths of several children worldwide.

The Centre had said that around 28 cases relating to such games have been reported so far in the country and the agencies were probing them.

It had said that the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology had set up a committee to deal with the issue and information was being sought from various service providers and steps would be taken to ensure that such incidents do not recur.

The apex court had sought the response on the plea seeking to firewall such life threatening and violent games existing in the cyber world like 'Choking game', 'Salt and Ice Challenge', 'Fire Challenge', 'Cutting challenge', 'Eyeball challenge' and 'Human Embroidery game'.

With inputs from PTI

Updated Date: Nov 20, 2017 20:11 PM

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