Block Child Pornographic Sites; Explore if viewing porn in public can be prohibited: SC to Centre [Read Order]

Block Child Pornographic Sites; Explore if viewing porn in public can be prohibited: SC to Centre [Read Order]

Observing that right to free speech, thought and expression was not “absolute”, the Supreme Court today asked the Centre to  take steps to block child pornographic sites and also to gradually consider steps to block all pornographic sites

A bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra significantly also decided to hear a plea to make watching pornographic material in any form in public places a crime.

“Mahalakshmi Pavani, learned senior counsel would submit that this Court may think of directing the Central Government to prohibit watching pornographic materials in any form at public places. Ms. Pinky Anand, learned Additional Solicitor General submitted that as far as the child pornography is concerned, exercise has been undertaken and the Central Government shall come with the scheme so that appropriate directions in that regard can be issued. The petitioners are at liberty to give their suggestions to Ms. Pinky Anand so that she can pass it on to the competent authority of the Central Government. If the Union of India so desires, it can ask for suggestions from the National Commission For Women and we are sure the said Commission would give its suggestions to the Union of India”, Said the order.

ASG Anand said the centre only favoured banning child pornography sites and did not want to  go beyond it  considering a citizen’s right to privacy and did not want to be seen moral policing. But the court directed the centre to develop a mechanism for blocking all porn sites by with the help of Information Technology experts and service providers.

Justice Misra pointed out how successfully the government had on its orders stopped Google, Yahoo and Microsoft from advertising kits for foetal gender determination and displaying addresses of foreign clinics that provide assistance in the act which is an offence in India.

On a separate plea filed by Supreme Court Women’s Association (SCWLA) for complete blocking of the pornography sites, the bench asked the ASG to take instructions on how fast it could block child pornography sites and make viewing of pornography in public a crime.

SCWLA said the situation is so alarming that even school students - both boys and girls - now have access to porn clips through the crew of their school buses and cabs.

“Due to easy access to porn, even bus drivers and conductors of school buses, cabs and taxis have porn clippings/videos on their mobile phones. As these are publicly shared without compunction, even the children would be exposed to this, critically affecting their emotional and psychological well-being. It is a serious matter of concern and such type of behaviour cannot be tolerated. It has become very common these days for the drivers, conductors/cleaners to take advantage of innocent children, induce them to watch porn on their mobiles and indulge in molestation and sodomisation of the child,” said the petition filed by the association’s secretary Prerna Kumari, and argued by senior lawyer Mahalakshmi Pavani.

Reacting to it, the bench said “We note the anguish as children need to be protected from this kind of moral assault and it has the potential to bring them physical disaster”.

Read the order here.