Justice Vijaya Kapse-Tahilramani of the Bombay high court on Wednesday quashed obscenity charges against top customs officers who were arrested following a police raid at a bungalow in Lonavla in 2008. Merely viewing an “obscene” film in the privacy of a house is not obscenity as defined under Indian criminal law, the court ruled.
The customs officers were raided while allegedly watching a pornographic film on a laptop and dancing with bar girls, the police had claimed.
“Simply viewing an obscene object is not an offence,” Justice Tahilramani said. “It becomes an offence only when someone has in possession such objects for the purpose of sale, hire, distribution, public exhibition or putting it into circulation. If the obscene object is kept in a house for private viewing, the accused cannot be charged (for obscenity).”
The court held that the private viewing of an obscene film on a laptop in a bungalow was not tantamount to public exhibition.
Read more: Merely viewing porn not a crime, rules HC – The Times of India http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mumbai/Merely-viewing-porn-not-a-crime-rules-HC/articleshow/6985342.cms#ixzz16Jhshq00
Relevant Provisions as to obscenity are contained under the Information Technology Act, 2008 as follows:
Sec 67: Punishment for publishing or transmitting obscene material in electronic form
Whoever publishes or transmits or causes to be published in the electronic form, any material which is lascivious or appeals to the prurient interest or if its effect is such as to tend to deprave and corrupt persons who are likely, having regard to all relevant circumstances, to read, see or hear the matter contained or embodied in it, shall be punished on first conviction with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years and with fine which may extend to five lakh rupees and in the event of a second or subsequent conviction with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to five years and also with fine which may extend to ten lakh rupees.