Decide stand on porn ban, making public viewing of it an offence in 2 weeks: SC to Centre

Decide stand on porn ban, making public viewing of it an offence in 2 weeks: SC to Centre

The Supreme Court today gave the centre two weeks time to inform its official stand on blocking of all pornographic sites, immediate blocking of child pornographic sites as per its order of February 26 and also if it wished to prohibit watching of such obscene sites or materials in any form in public places.

A bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra gave the centre further time after Additional Solicitor Geneal Pinky Anand said discussion were on with various stakeholders including National Commission for Women but a decision has not yet been arrived yet.

In a significant order on February 26, the bench, observing that right to free speech, thought and expression was not “absolute”, had asked the Centre to take steps to block child pornographic sites and also to gradually consider steps to block all pornographic sites. It also decided to hear a plea to make watching pornographic material in any form in public places a crime.

The order had said: “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”.

ASG Anand had 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 had 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”.