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  • 10 January, 2023

  • 5 Min Read

Obscenity Laws in India

Obscenity Laws in India

  • The Advocate recently filed a police report against Urfi Javed for roaming the streets of Mumbai and exposing her body.

India's Obscenity Laws:

  • Sections 292, 293, and 294 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) deal with the offense of obscenity.
  • According to Section 292, any content is declared obscene if it is lascivious or appeals to the prurient interest, or if its effect is to deprave and corrupt persons likely to read, view, or hear the content.
  • This provision makes it illegal to sell or publish any indecent booklet, book, paper, painting, or other media.
  • Section 293 makes the sale or distribution of obscene objects to anybody under the age of 20 illegal, as well as the attempt to do so.
  • Although it is a bailable offense, the maximum punishment for the first conviction is three years in prison and a fine of up to Rs 2,000, and the maximum punishment for the second conviction is seven years in prison and a fine of up to Rs 5,000.
  • Section 294 makes indecent activities and songs illegal in public places.
  • The maximum penalty for a conviction on this crime is three months in jail and a fine.
  • With the advent of the digital age, legislation was enacted to criminalize obscene behavior on the internet as well.
  • Sections 67A of the IT Act deal with the material in an electronic form involving a sexually explicit act, for example.
  • The sentence is five years in prison and Rs 10 lakh (for the first conviction) or seven years in prison and Rs 10 lakh (for the second conviction) (second conviction).

The judiciary's point of view:

  • The Hicklin test was employed by the judiciary in 2014 to evaluate whether something is obscene or not.
  • The Regina vs. Hicklin case created the Hicklin Test in English law (1868).
  • According to it, a work can be judged obscene if any portion of it is proven to "deprave and corrupt individuals whose brains are receptive to such influences".
  • In the case of Ranjit D Udeshi vs State Of Maharashtra, the Supreme Court notably utilised the criteria to prohibit DH Lawrence's Lady Chatterley's Lover (1964).
  • However, the Supreme Court abolished the Hicklin Test in 2014 while hearing the case of Aveek Sarkar & Anr versus State Of West Bengal and Anr, which involved the publication of a semi-nude photograph of Boris Becker and his fiancee.
  • In its verdict, the court declared "when assessing as to whether a particular photograph, an article or book is obscene, reference must be made to the contemporary mores and national norms and not the standard of a group of vulnerable or sensitive persons".

Source: The Indian Express

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