Porn cannot be protected under freedom of speech: SC

February hearing saw the government trying to argue that banning anything beyond Child pornography involves issues of right to privacy and other rights (Articles 19 and 21 of the Constitution).

Justice Mishra in response to that stated that ‘what is the privacy argument? I do not understand what is the privacy issue?’ no one wants to be seen doing this and that if there is any issue the Court can interpret it and deal with it during the arguments.’

Panjwani stated that ISPs keep raising the argument of free speech but an illegal act cannot be protected under the garb of free speech.

Despite stiff objection from the Centre which said it only favoured banning child pornography sites and not “going beyond” considering a citizen’s right to privacy and also because it did not want to be seen “moral policing”, the court directed the Centre to “develop a mechanism” for blocking all porn sites with the help of IT experts and service providers.

On a separate plea filed by Supreme Court Women’s Association (SCWLA) for complete blocking of pornography sites and making viewing of pornographic material in public an offence, the bench asked the ASG to take instructions.

SCWLA said the situation is so alarming that even school students – both boys and girls – now have access to porn clips through the crew of their school buses and cabs. “Due to easy access to porn, even bus drivers and conductors of school buses, cabs and taxis have porn clippings/videos on their mobile phones. As these are publicly shared without compunction, even the children would be exposed to this, critically affecting their emotional and psychological well being.

Reacting to it, the bench said: “We note the anguish as children need to be protected from this kind of moral assault and it has the potential to bring them physical disaster.”

Court proceedings later noted

“The innocent children cannot be made prey to these kind of painful situations, and a nation, by no means, can afford to carry any kind of experiment with its children in the name of liberty and freedom.”

“Freedom of speech cannot create a dent in the national character or the moral spine of the nation which comes within the constitutional morality because various provisions under the Indian Penal Code..”

Access the record of court proceedings here

With inputs from sites of Medianama and India Today.

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