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An Article by Mr. M.L Joseph, Managing Partner, Chennai Law Associates, Chennai.

 

The Central Government is contemplating to ban all web sites displaying pornography contents. A statute is getting ready in this regard. The ban has already been implemented in all the Gulf countries and in some other Islamic countries as well. A section of media always cries ‘foul’ in the name of protectors of rights against moral policing.

Anything touching upon or attempting to regulate/control principles, culture, character, morals, behaviour of individuals in public and in private, ethics, etc is opposed in the media as invasion into privacy rights and moral policing by the State.

What is privacy as guaranteed by the Constitution of India ? Have we forgotten the national pledge which we took each day at the school assembly during our days, wherein the most outstanding words which linger in our memories are ‘……….. I am proud of its (our country’s) rich and varied heritage…….’. Will our future generation be able to say the same pledge and feel proud of our heritage ? Is that heritage being subjected to damage by mislead youth and younger generation through various means, modes, and media ?

Reasonable restriction was always permitted in the Constitution. Freedom is always coupled with obligation. Freedom is always connected to restriction because unrestricted freedom may deny freedom for others, which is not the concept of any civilized society. What is affecting privacy if there was no material to be displayed on website amounting to abusive and pornographic contents ? Is it not the duty of the State to provide a Governance of welfare for the people ? Implementing laws or imposing restrictions amounting to ban of website displaying pornographic contents is now being termed vociferously in the media as denial of right to be private and to do acts and deeds that fall within the ambit of privacy. The campaigners go to the extent of citing examples from ancient books on sex education like Kamasutra and the display of nude and semi nude sculptures in a series of sexual acts performed during ancient times sculpted and displayed on most of the heritage buildings and also in certain places of worship as well and ofcourse the areas inside the temple and places of sanctum sanctorum were all carefully excluded from such painting, pictures and sculptures. One cannot resist the irritation of such a comparison for the simple reason that the impact of powerful audio visual advanced technologies projecting motion clips and pornographic pictures of people around the world across religion, language, races, orientation, etc are not definitely indented to educate or inspire or create interest in permissible acts of sex. By permissibility the Author only intents to relate the reader to the basic requirement of being recognised Adults who alone can consent and participate in acts of sexual benefits for each other. I do not intend to question or intervene into the rights of persons of same sexual orientation, be it gay or lesbians. Whether countries accepted such same sex practices and whether our country is ready or prepared to accept it, is not the topic for present discussion but I had to stray away into those areas because the explosive sexual content available on the net crosses all acceptability, all permissibility, and all laws and rules of a civilized country claiming to be on the verge of becoming one of the most intellectual countries capable of leading the entire world.

Can notifications displaying ‘sexually explicit material’, and ‘not to be viewed by person less than 18 years’ or ‘click here if your above 18 years’ be sufficient warnings to ensure that persons below 18 years are not having access to such material ? Consent of minors is not material and they have no right to consent according to the ingredients of many of the sexual offences including but limited to the offence of rape. When that be so, how a click on the mouse or a tap on the keyboard or a touch on the phone screen by a minor child constitute confirmation of the age of the child or recording the consent of the user who may be a minor, so as to enable the commercial websites to victimize young minds of our country and pollute the same at a very nascent stage of their life.

Human trafficking, abduction of girl children at a very small age from schools and public places, involving children into sexual offences for creating library of pornographic contents, using children for prostitution, immoral trafficking for the purpose of prostitution, etc are all punishable grave criminal offences under the Indian Penal Code as of today.

Hon’ble Supreme Court of India, in the PIL filed by NGO Bachpan Bachao Andolan, recently took serious stock of the huge number of missing girl children in our country and directed all the State Governments to submit status report on the cases registered and stages of investigation, etc.

Can we shut our eyes to such gross deterioration of moral standards and keep questioning the right of the Government to issue orders/ rules which are appearing to be moral policing ? Why are we not willing to learn from such vast deterioration of moral and cultural standards ? Can we honestly tell that the invasion of online technology and its development has not contributed in any manner for the pollution of our young minds ? Education on sex and physical changes in body during the adolescent ages and impact of hormonal changes in young people and the right concept of sex are all definitely necessary for the growth of a developed country and for the control of crime against women also to a larger extent and no one will ever deny it.

Strange situation in our country which has to be observed quite deeply in comparison with other countries is the fact that we have not yet attained complete literacy till date. By literacy, here, I mean and insist on basic school education for every child of the country. But the ‘e-literacy’ has reached every nook and corner of the country due to the invasion of the Mobile phone technology with add-ons such as smart phones, android phones, tablets, phablets, etc. It is necessary to view the impact of such voluminous and sexually explicit and explosive materials being made available online to a huge chunk of people across various age groups and of semi literate/ illiterate category and the impact that creates in them. Will it generate a balanced knowledge based understanding in the minds of such people or is it likely to flame up the lust in utmost negative manner within them, later on exhibited in the form of group rape and rape of innocent girl children of our country as well as the tourist who visit our country as our esteemed guests ? How a claim of privacy can be put against such an urgent need to check deterioration of moral standards which can be achieved through imposing valuable restrictions on the exhibition of such pornographic website.

Whether it should be a ban or there should be reasonable restriction for viewership and whether a government issued ID be made  mandatory for enabling access to such sites and whether online advertisements of such sites and free trial and free detour packages be completely banned and prohibited and inaccessible to anyone on the net and whether picturized or motion clips to promote and advertise such pornography sites can be done away with proper regulations, have to be constructively discussed by responsible higher officials of the civil and police administration and appropriate Government’s order/direction to the Information and Broadcasting Ministry as well as Ministry of Telecommunication be issued to check the menace.

                                                                                                                                                 


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