Is it Illegal to Watch Porn in India?

Since the arrest of actress Shilpa Shetty’s husband Raj Kundra for making and transmitting pornographic videos, one question which is being asked everywhere is whether watching pornographic content is illegal in India?

This article will answer the above question by discussing the laws governing the domain of pornographic content.

In Indian Law, three acts mainly cover the subject of pornography.

1.   Information Technology(IT) Act, 2000

2.   India Penal Code(IPC),

3.   Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012.

Watching porn privately is not ILLEGAL:

In India, it is not illegal to watch pornographic content in your private rooms or space.

Article 21 of the Indian Constitution gives the right to life and personal liberty to Indian Citizens. The Supreme Court of India in the year 2015 orally remarked in a case watching porn in a private room may fall under the right to personal liberty given under the Constitution. Therefore it cannot be taken away by any authority, except by procedure established by Law.

So as long as you are watching porn films in your private spaces it is completely legal. However, watching or storing pornographic content which depicts child pornography or rape or violence against women is an offence even if it is being watched in a private space.

Porn Ban in India:

None of the Fundamental Rights in India is absolute in nature. Every right comes with reasonable restrictions. ‘Morality and decency’ is a ground under which the exercise of the fundamental right of a person can be restricted. On the same ground, the government banned pornographic content in India in 2015 which was unsuccessful, and again in the year 2018.

So the question again arose that if porn is banned in India then how watching it privately is legal?

The answer to the above is in two folds. Firstly the onus of implementing the porn ban is on the Internet Service providers. So if an adult citizen finds a way to access porn websites by using tools like VPS then it is the service provider who is at fault and not the adult citizen.

Secondly, the main reason as specified by the government behind banning porn in India was to put an end to child pornography and pornography which depicted violence against women.

So if you are not watching child pornography or porn which shows violence against women then you are in a safe spot.

It is to be noted that if a person privately watches a porn video and thereafter shares it or stores it, then it’s an offence under Indian Laws.

Also Read

Your Computer has been Blocked- Beware of Fraud

Recently, many people have reported that while accessing Adult Content Websites, after sometime a message appears on the screen from “Ministry of Law and Justice” lawmin.gov.in saying:

“Your browser has been locked due to viewing and dissemination of materials forbidden by law of India,namely pornography with pedophilia, rape and zoophilia.

In order to unlocking you should pay a 29000 INR fine with Visa or MasterCard Your browser will be unlocked automatically after the fine payment.

Attention! In case of non-payment of the fine, or your attempts to unlock the device independently, case materials will be transfered to the Ministry of Law for the institution of criminal proceedings against you due to commitment a crime.

You have 6 hours to pay the fine.”

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We would like to tell our readers that this is a fake/fraud message by some hackers, trying to dupe users.

Neither the Government of India nor any police department in India has any authority or technology to block the PC/Laptop.

It is also to be noted that in the above message Rs 29000 is being demanded as a fine, which strengths the fact that its a fraud message. There is no law in India that bars watching porn in private space or prescribes punishment that too of Rs 29000 for this act.

Further even the smallest of crimes are required to be proved in the Court of Law and only then punishment can be imposed, whereas here without any trial and opportunity of hearing a punishment has been imposed.

So it is advisable to be aware of these kinds of cyber frauds and do not pay any amount either under fear or threat of such kind of messages.

Why was Raj Kundra arrested?

Section 67 of the IT act makes it illegal to publish or transmit “obscene material” in electronic form. Obscene material according to the IT act is “lascivious or appeals to the prurient interest or if its effect is such as to tend to deprave and corrupt”.

Section 292 and 293 of the IPC make it illegal to sell, distribute, and exhibit or circulate obscene objects.

The allegations against Raj Kundra were of making and circulating pornographic content through apps like ‘Hotshot’ and ‘Whatsapp’. Therefore he was arrested.

India’s strict stance against child pornography:

The 2018 porn ban was triggered by the brutal incident of four boys that gang-raped a 16-year-old girl after luring her to a storeroom on the false pretext of preparation for Independence Day celebrations at their school. During the interrogation, one of the boys revealed to the police that the idea of rape came to him after watching porn on his phone. Based on this incident, the Uttarakhand High Court appealed to the government that unlimited access to pornographic sites should be curbed to avoid adverse influence on the minds of children.

Considering the adverse effect of porn on young minds of the national laws on child pornography have been tightened up.

Section 14 of the POCSO Act makes it a crime with strict punishments to use a child or children for pornographic purposes. Section 15 of the same act makes it a crime to store or possess child pornography.

Section 67B of the IT act also gives strict punishments for publishing or transmitting material depicting children in sexually explicit acts in electronic form.

Conclusion:

The laws against pornography in India have been framed with three main aims:

1.   To curb the adverse effect of porn on young minds.

2.   To curb child pornography.

3.   To curb sexual violence against women in the country.

Edited by

Rajat Rajan Singh

Editor-in-Chief at Law Trend

Advocate- Allahabad High Court at Lucnow

Written by – Harshwardhan Pawar- Intern

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