Vulgar Display of Women and Indian Law


So many things in this world but all women want two things out of it i.e Dignity and Respect, but nowadays we see a ton of incidents where the modesty of a woman is violated. Violence against women takes many forms, from marital rape to sex slavery, out of which one of the alarming issues are depicting women in a vulgar manner. Vulgar display means an indecent representation of women and any law preventing indecent representation of women can help in fighting against this issue. Indian Law has many legislations which talk about ‘obscenity’ is prohibited in any form. Now, what do we mean by the word obscene?

In the words of Merriam-Webster, it means repulsive by reason of crass disregard of moral and ethical principles. So, it infers that something which is not acceptable to society, but every society has different standards for something to be obscene. Supreme Court of India has provided us with a test to decide what is obscene and what is not.

In Ranjit D. Udeshi vs State of Maharashtra[1], SC established a test of Obscenity. The appellant who was bookseller sold a copy of the unexpurgated edition of “Lady Chatterley’s Lover”. He was convicted under Section 292 of IPC. The SC held that the section embodies a reasonable restriction upon the freedom of speech and expression guaranteed by Article 19 and does not fall outside the ambit of restriction permitted by clause 2 of that article. The book must be declared obscene within the meaning of section 292 of IPC. The word ‘obscene’ in the section is not limited to pictures, writings, etc. intended to arouse sexual desire. At the same time, the mere treatment with sex and nudity in art and literature is not per se evidence of obscenity.

In Chandrakant Kalyandas Kakodar v The State of Maharashtra And ors[2], the Supreme court held that “the concept of obscenity would differ from country to country depending on the standards of morals of contemporary society

Laws Protecting display of vulgarity of women in India

  1. The Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, 1986

The Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act 1986 protects women from being depicted as vulgar and obscene, it punishes the indecent representation of women. The objective of this act is to prohibit indecent representation of women through advertisement or in publications, writings, painting, figures, or in any other manner and for matters connected therewith. Section 2{c} of the act defines indecent representation of women as, “the depiction in any manner of the figure of a woman, her form or body or any part thereof in such a way as to have the effect of being indecent, or derogatory to, or denigrating, women, or is likely to deprave, corrupt or injure the public morality or morals”. Section 6 of the Act provides punishment for first-time offenders i.e., imprisonment up t two years with a fine which may extend to two thousand rupees. The said section also gives punishment to subsequent offenders i.e., imprisonment for not less than 6 months which may extend to five years with a fine, not less than ten thousand rupees which may extend to one lakh rupees.

  • The Information Technology Act, 2000

This Act also protects women from being shown indecent and vulgar, Section 67 of the Act is very wide and includes any king of cyber pornography which clearly includes vulgarity, it reads, “Whoever publishes or transmits or causes to be published in the electronic form, any material which is lascivious or appeals to the prurient interest or if its effect is such as to tend to deprave and corrupt persons who are likely, having regard to all relevant circumstances, to read, see or hear the matter contained or embodied in it”. The Act carefully includes all those who attempt to spread vulgarity in electronic forms. Section 67 also prescribes punishment for first-time offenders i.e., imprisonment up to five years with a fine which may extend to one lakh rupees and imprisonment up to ten years and with a fine of up to ten lakh rupees for the subsequent offenders.

  • Other Legislations and Judgements

In Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India[3], SC rules that Article 21 does not only talks about physical existence but also includes the Right to live with human dignity. Now, it clearly shows that no women or men should be represented in a disgraceful and vulgar manner. Thus Article 21 talks about the Right to life inherent Right to dignity as well. The same had been maintained in another case of Allahabad high court Chandra Rajkumari And Anr. V. Commissioner of Police[4].

In The Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995 includes the Advertisement code of the Cable Television Network Rules, 1994, if violated attracts punishment. Under Rule 7 (2)(vi), it clearly states that no advertisement shall be permitted which, “in its depiction of women violates the constitutional guarantees to all citizens. In particular, no advertisement shall be permitted that projects a derogatory image of women. Women must not be portrayed in a manner that emphasizes passive, submissive qualities and encourages them to play a subordinate, secondary role in the family and society. The cable operator shall ensure that the portrayal of the female form, in the programs carried in his cable service, is tasteful and aesthetic, and is within the well-established norms of good taste and decency”.


Indian law provides a number of legislations for the protection of women from being depicted as vulgar in any form from paper to digital. Indian Government also set up another mechanism to fight this evil. For example, the Human Rights Commission and other such statutory and non-statutory bodies, but the need of the hour is to change the attitude. Even though we have an abundant legal mechanism to fight, we are unable to confine this vulgarity or put a stop to it. Social awareness programs must be held to make people understand that it is not appropriate to play with any gender’s dignity or respect.

[1] 1965 AIR 881, 1965 SCR (1) 65

[2] 1970 AIR 1930, 1970 SCR (2) 80

[3] 1978 AIR 597, 1978 SCR (2) 621

[4] 1998 (1) ALD 810, 1998 (1) ALD Cri 298, 1998 (1) ALT 329

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.


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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.

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In the year 2021, we wrote about 1000 Inspirational Women In India, in the year 2022, we would be featuring 5000 Start Up Stories.

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