NEW DELHI: The government on Monday told the Supreme Court that it does not believe in a “totalitarian” state and cannot become moral police by blocking porn sites and interfering in what happens inside an individual’s bedroom.
Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi submitted before a bench headed by Chief Justice H L Dattu that it has blocked sites dealing with child pornography and this is standard accepted practice across the globe.
“Child pornography has to be banned. There is no doubt about it. But it is difficult as geographical frontiers have now become meaningless. You ban 10 such websites, five new will come up,” he said. Rohatgi termed the issue relating to banning of porn sites as a “grey area” and said that violation of fundamental right of speech and expression will also arise and hence, it needs a public debate.
“The state cannot become moral police. We cannot peek inside. The entire issue needs larger debate. Every computer and mobile phone have the child lock... It is difficult to stop such things at the source level,” Rohatgi said.
“We are going towards ‘Digital India’ and the Prime Minister is inviting suggestions from the public about his August 15 speech,” he said. The AG also cited the example of customs officers in Mumbai who were booked as they were caught watching porn in a bungalow though the HC acquitted them.
Meanwhile, advocate Meenakshi Arora, appearing for the Department of Telecom (DoT), informed the bench that the government has banned porn sites in pursuance of a court order. On this, the bench said, “We have not passed any such order.”
The Central government, meanwhile, asked Internet service providers to sit with authorities to resolve issues relating to the DoT order on banning porn sites. The bench then adjourned the hearing on the plea till October. Earlier, the government had assured the court that all possible measures would be taken to block porn sites, particularly those dealing with child pornography.
The petitioner had pleaded that although watching obscene videos is not an offence, pornographic sites should be banned as they were one of the major causes for crime against women.