LEGALITY OF PORNOGRAPHY IN INDIA

What is pornography?

According to Oxford dictionary pornography means “printed or visual material containing the explicit description or display of sexual organs or activity, intended to stimulate sexual excitement.”

Which laws deal with pornography in India?

In India, mainly three laws deal with pornography and they are as follows:

  • The Indian Penal Code,1860;
  • The Information Technology (IT) Act,2000 and
  • The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act 2012

Now are going to deal with three aspects of pornography i.e.

  • Whether watching porn is illegal?
  • Whether producing pornographic content is illegal?
  • Whether possession of child pornographic content is illegal?

Let us first discuss ‘Whether watching porn is illegal?’

The Supreme Court answering this question in affirmative said that in India viewing sexually explicit material in private spaces is not illegal. The Supreme Court had also orally remarked back in July 2015 that it cannot stop an adult from exercising his fundamental right to personal liberty to watch porn within the privacy of his room.[1]

Speaking constitutionally, any restriction on the exercise of free speech is required to strictly conform to any of the eight grounds contained in Article 19(2) of the Constitution. In other words, a law can restrict freedom of speech and expression on these eight grounds, which includes “morality and decency”.  [2]

The second question before us is ‘Whether producing pornographic content is illegal?’

Before technology had hit our world, Indian Penal code mainly dealt with pornography. Section 293 of the IPC makes it illegal to sell, distribute, exhibit or circular obscene objects to anyone under the age of 20 years, and Section 294 makes it a crime to do any obscene act or sing obscene songs in any public place.

However, after the technology came into picture, and seeing all the pornographic content being shifted there, the Information Technology Act,2000 started dealing with pornography and its legality. Section 67 of the Act makes it illegal to publish or transmit “obscene material” in electronic form. This material, it says, can be anything which is “lascivious or appeals to the prurient interest or if its effect is such as to tend to deprave and corrupt” people who watch it, read or hear it. Anybody who does this can be punished with a three-year jail term along with Rs 5 lakh as fine.[3]

Section 67A of the IT Act provides the punishment for publishing or transmitting material containing sexually explicit acts, etc., in electronic form. Anyone who “publishes or transmits or causes to be published or transmitted” any sexually explicit material can be punished with a jail term of five years along with Rs 10 lakh as fine.[4]

The Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act 1986 also prohibits “indecent representation of women through advertisements or in publications, writings, paintings, figures or in any other manner”.

Lastly, the question that is raised often with the above questions is “Whether possession of child pornographic content is illegal?”

When it comes to child pornography, not only watching but possession of such content becomes illegal. Section 14 of the POCSO Act 2012 makes it a crime to “use a child or children for pornographic purposes”, prescribing a punishment of at least five years jail term with fine. In case of a second or subsequent conviction, it provides for a minimum sentence of seven years along with fine.

Section 15 of the POCSO Act also makes it illegal to store or possess child pornography “for transmitting or propagating or displaying or distributing” it in any manner. The only exception to this is storing or possessing pornographic material for reporting it to the authorities or for using it as evidence in court.Section 15 also provides for an enhanced punishment of three to five years imprisonment for anyone who stores or possesses child pornography for commercial purposes.

Section 67B of the IT Act makes it punishable for anyone to publish or transmit material depicting children in sexually explicit acts in electronic form. So within this provision, creating text or digital images or collecting, browsing, downloading, advertising, promoting, exchanging or distributing any material that depicts children in “obscene or indecent or sexually explicit manner” is also prohibited.


[1] Krishnadas Rajgopal, Can’t stop an adult from watching porn in his room, says SC, The Hindu (JULY 09, 2015 03:52 IST), https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/cant-stop-an-adult-from-watching-porn-in-his-room-says-sc/article7400690.ece

[2] Apoorva Mandhani, Watching, publishing, sharing pornography: What is a crime in India and what isn’t, The Print, (21 July, 2021 4:01 pm IST), https://theprint.in/theprint-essential/watching-publishing-sharing-pornography-what-is-a-crime-in-india-and-what-isnt/700179/

[3] Ibid

[4] Supra Note 2

Aishwarya Says:

I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.

If you are interested in participating in the same, do let me know.

Do follow me on FacebookTwitter  Youtube and Instagram.

The copyright of this Article belongs exclusively to Ms. Aishwarya Sandeep. Reproduction of the same, without permission will amount to Copyright Infringement. Appropriate Legal Action under the Indian Laws will be taken.

If you would also like to contribute to my website, then do share your articles or poems at adv.aishwaryasandeep@gmail.com

We also have a Facebook Group Restarter Moms for Mothers or Women who would like to rejoin their careers post a career break or women who are enterpreneurs.

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