Is Public Display of Affection (PDA) Legal in India?

As per provisions of Section 294 of IPC a person can be punished or is punishable for obscene words or acts in public like doing an obscene act in public or if a person recites, sings or utters an obscene song in a public area then he might be imprisoned for three months, fined or both.

The Section does not clearly define all obscene acts. An act becomes an obscene act when it is performed in public and annoys other people. 

For example, kissing in public can be considered obscene, if it offends a person, which means there has to be an aggrieved party. In such a case, the burden of proof lies on the prosecution.

In a case where 13 men were found indulging in obscene acts with women in a flat and were arrested, the Apex Court observed that if an obscene act is done privately, it would not be considered a criminal offence as per Indian Penal Code.

Another example is when Actor Richard Gere kissed Shila Shetty in public. The Court held that the petitioner made no case for interference and proceeded to dismiss the complaint.

The sad part is that nowadays, authorities misuse Section 294 to harass innocent couples.

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