in Cyber Law
Asked July 03, 2013

moral policing and obscenity

  • 4 Answers

On a rainy evening, I was with my GF in a cab, spotting none around barring the cabby, we happen to kiss each other for a moment. A policeman saw this (donno how) and followed the cab in his jeep till a distance and made the cabby stop the cab at a deserted place. In order to be out of the grave situation and due to lack of legal knowledge had to bribe the policeman. The policemen often resort to moral policing, was our act a criminal offense?

Answers 4

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S. 294(a) of the IPC provides that "Whoever, to the annoyance of others, does any obscene act in a public place [...] shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three months, or with fine, or with both." In your case, the applicability of this provision is arguable as from your description it appears that the spot was not a public place. There may be other contentious points too, but this seems to be the most pertinent line of argument in your defence.

Agree Comment 0 Agrees over 8 years ago

Default avatar
Satchit Bhogle

An occupied cab is not a "public place". For this to be a criminal offence, it would have to be committed in a public place. I doubt that a consensual kiss can be considered an obscene act as it is hardly one likely to corrupt society's morals, but the important point is that an occupied cab is not somewhere the public frequents.

Agree Comment 0 Agrees over 8 years ago

Default avatar

In my opinion, no offense can be made out here: a. an occupied vehicle would not be a public place, because the public can't be considered to have unfettered access to it - rights of entry are regulated; b. Your act cannot be considered to be 'obscene' either, which is what the Indian Penal Code requires in such cases (Sec. 294(a), IPC). 'Obscene' hasn't been defined anywhere in the Code for the purposes of Sec. 494, but the test that Indian courts is one which gauges obscenity on the basis of the act/the material's tendency to deprave and corrupt, and a mere act of kissing can't be considered to have any such tendency.

[For reference, if you wish to know more: R v. Hicklin was the classic English case that laid down this test for obscenity, and it was adopted in India vide Ranjit Udeshi v. Maharashtra.]

Agree Comment 0 Agrees over 8 years ago

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