HYDERABAD: In a big blow to the rising tide of moral policing, the Supreme Court of India has ruled that watching porn in the privacy of a room by an adult would not be a crime, and the court cannot step into that domain.
In a far-reaching ruling, the Chief Justice H L Dattu observed on Wednesday that, “the court cannot pass orders to stop adults from watching porn within the four walls of their room as it would be a violation of Article 21 (right to personal liberty).”
The oral order was given by the CJI heading a three-judge bench, refusing to pass an interim order, while hearing a PIL filed by an Indore-based lawyer for a ban on all porn sites in the country.
The Union Home Ministry has been asked to file a detailed affidavit in this regard within the next four weeks.
Interestingly, the earlier Supreme Court bench, hearing the same PIL, wanted a joint crackdown by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Home Ministry and the Department of Telecom.
This ruling would come as a big relief to cyber cafes in the city, as many of them are raided frequently by the police.
The ruling effectively puts a cap on efforts to block porn websites in the country.
Earlier this year, the Telangana government had asked the state CID to move in and block 1500 porn sites. The state government’s request is pending with the central government. The state government stance was, this was an essential step towards protecting women, as porn has been linked to rise in crimes against women.
On the flip side, this ruling can also lead to mainstreaming of porn.
Currently, only Section 67 of IT Act deals with pornography and transmission of porn but doesn’t deal with people who are watching it.