India:  The Kerala High Court has ruled that watching pornography in private is not a crime according to Section 292 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), which addresses the distribution and public display of obscene materials. This landmark ruling emphasizes the right to privacy, stating that personal choices in private spaces should not be legally interfered with.  Acknowledging the historical existence of pornography and the private nature of consensual adult relationships, the court left the regulation of such matters to societal norms and legislative decisions, urging a modern understanding of personal and consensual choices in the digital age. Furthermore, the court encouraged parental supervision to protect minors from explicit content, promoting a balanced approach to nurture a healthy younger generation while respecting individual privacy rights.

 

The Kerala* High Court, led by Justice PV Kunhikrishnan, ruled that watching pornography privately is not an offence under Section 292 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). This section of the IPC pertains to the obscene material’s sale, distribution, and public display. The court emphasized that personal choices made in private spaces should not face legal scrutiny, protecting individuals’ right to privacy. This ruling came in the case of Aneesh v State of Kerala, setting a precedent in legal interpretations of privacy.

 

In further clarification, the court stated that the law doesn’t cover viewing explicit content privately, including on mobile devices. The IPC’s Section 292 is invoked only when there is an attempt to circulate, distribute, or publicly exhibit obscene materials. In a related case where an individual faced charges under Section 292 for watching explicit content in public, the court dismissed the case, highlighting the need for substantial evidence to prove the offence. This ruling delineates the boundaries of legal interference in personal choices.

 

The court also acknowledged pornography’s historical presence, noting its increased accessibility in the digital age to both adults and children. It affirmed that consensual sexual activities between adults in private are not offences in India. The court maintained that it holds the jurisdiction to decide if an act is an offence, leaving the matters of consensual sex and private viewing of explicit content to societal norms and legislative decisions. This stance recognizes the evolving dynamics of personal and consensual choices in the digital era.

 

Justice Kunhikrishnan expressed concerns over minors accessing explicit content, urging parental supervision to ensure their safety. The court suggested encouraging children to participate in physical activities and advised against unsupervised mobile phone usage. The ruling underlines the pivotal role of parental guidance in nurturing a well-informed younger generation in the digital age, emphasizing a collaborative approach to safeguarding minors while respecting individual privacy rights. This judgment brings to fore the necessity of responsible parenting in modern times.

 

*

– Kerala, officially Keralam is a state on the Malabar Coast of India.
– It was formed on 1 November 1956, following the passage of the States Reorganisation Act, by combining Malayalam-speaking regions of the erstwhile regions of Cochin, Malabar, South Canara, and Travancore.
– Spread over 38,863 km2 (15,005 sq mi), Kerala is the 21st largest Indian state by area.
– With 35 million inhabitants, Kerala is the 13th-largest Indian state by population.
– It is divided into 14 districts with the capital being Thiruvananthapuram.
– Malayalam is the most widely spoken language and is also the official language of the state
– Kerala has the lowest positive population growth rate in India, the highest Human Development Index (HDI), the highest literacy rate, the highest life expectancy and the highest sex ratio, 1,084 women per 1,000 men.
– Kerala is the least impoverished state in India
– Kerala is the second-most urbanised major state in the country with
– The state topped in the country to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals
– The state has the highest media exposure in India with newspapers publishing in nine languages
– Hinduism is practised by more than half of the population, followed by Islam and Christianity.
– The economy of Kerala is the 8th-largest in India

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