27131a1104a73ef6057ddcf3f0b0beccaab74974

LAW ON ONLINE PORN

By amrisha tripathi February 27, 2017

Pornography, in the eyes of law, is not necessarily unethical and obscene. In today's era where there are almost about 400 million people having access to the internet in our country[1], availability of pornographic materials is wider than ever. This tends to grasp the attention of masses, especially the younger generations, and furthers the ongoing debate about censorship and individual freedom.

In India, watching porn online is legal. It is also legal to possess pornographic materials. However, the production, distribution or publication of such material is not legal. The corresponding law to this is laid down in Section 292 of Indian Penal Code, which was later amended by the IT Act to also include electronic data. However, Section 67 of the IT Act criminalizes the publishing or posting of pornographic content online. But accessing this content privately is legal. The IT Act was amended in 2008 and Section 67B was introduced which further criminalizes browsing, surfing, downloading, creating, and publishing of child porn. Section 293 of the Indian Penal Code also makes the sale of such obscene objects to minors illegal. These provisions empower government's law enforcement agencies to take stricter actions against those linked with child porn. Supreme Court has observed that certain "appropriate steps" are required for regulating pornographic sites, especially those featuring child pornography. These steps can be as strict as an imprisonment term of five years with a fine of 40 lakh rupees, just for browsing online for child porn.[2]

A petition by Kamlesh Vaswani in 2013, asking for a ban on porn sites, was filed before the Supreme Court by virtue of Article 32 of The Constitution of India, 1950. This PIL demanded an action plan and an exclusive legislation to contain the rapid increase of porn sites on the internet, especially with respect to its adverse effects on minors. The Court ordered to block 897 pornographic websites in one go.[3] The Court relied upon Section 79(3)(b) of the IT Act. This order stated the reasoning that the content posted on such sites directly relate to morality and decency and is, therefore, subject to "reasonable restrictions" on the fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression. However, it later reversed its decision and supported the view that it is a question of a person's right to expression and entertainment and the courts cannot enter into people's bedrooms now. Certain provisions exist for reasonable regulation of 'obscene' content available online, but they do not exist for furthering the imposition of sweeping restrictions. The aforementioned order could not be considered as legitimate because it was a blanket ban and the Court did not think of the consequences of such actions as these websites are not unlawful per se. This ongoing debate made the Court think twice about the order and in a later hearing it was reversed. The blue films did not face any judicial axe because watching porn is a personal choice. Instead of all this, there should be a controlled and coordinated effort between the Department of Telecommunication, Information and Broadcasting Ministry and the Home Ministry to deal with it so that further crimes are not committed.

Author: Kavya Mathur, Lawfarm Intern

 


[1] http://www.internetworldstats.com/stats.htm

[2] Kamlesh Vaswani v. Union of India& Ors. (2014) 6 SCC 705.

[3] http://indianexpress.com

Tags: porn law , is porn legal , law on porn , crime and porn , pornography


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