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Kerela High Court: “Watching porn in one’s privacy not an offence under Section 292 of IPC”

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In a recent ruling that carries significant implications for privacy and individual rights, the Kerala High Court tackled a pivotal question: whether the act of privately viewing explicit content, such as a pornographic video, without sharing it with others, constitutes an offense under Section 292 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). This case centered on the actions of the petitioner, who was allegedly spotted watching obscene videos on his mobile phone in a public space. However, after meticulous deliberation, the court reached the verdict that watching an obscene video privately, without any intent to circulate or exhibit it publicly, does not qualify as an offense under Section 292 of the IPC.

The court conducted a thorough analysis of Section 292 IPC and underscored that, for the offense to be established, there must be concrete evidence indicating that the accused engaged in activities such as selling, distributing, publicly exhibiting, or putting into circulation any obscene material. In this particular case, there was no indication that the petitioner was involved in any such activities. The statement provided by the police officer clarified that the petitioner was simply watching obscene videos on his mobile phone in a private setting.

The court unambiguously asserted that viewing an obscene video on a mobile phone in private, without any intention to circulate or exhibit it publicly, does not constitute an offense under Section 292 of the IPC. It stated that had the petitioner attempted to distribute or exhibit the material publicly, the situation might have been different. The court bolstered its interpretation of Section 292 with references to established legal precedents such as Ramesh Krishnan v. State of Kerala and Abdul Rasheed v. State of Kerala.

Kerela High Court giving importance to privacy and choices

Furthermore, the court acknowledged that matters concerning the private viewing of explicit content are deeply personal choices and fall within the realm of an individual’s right to privacy. It emphasized that a court of law cannot categorize such actions as offenses, as doing so would encroach upon a person’s fundamental right to privacy. The court seized the opportunity to offer its perspective on matters of human sexuality, highlighting the significance of consensual relationships among adults.

Notably, the court also used this case to address parents, issuing a poignant reminder about their responsibilities regarding their minor children’s access to mobile phones and potential exposure to explicit content. It cautioned against providing unsupervised access to mobile phones, underscoring the need for responsible and vigilant parenting. The court strongly encouraged parents to engage their children in physical activities and prioritize home-cooked meals over fast food deliveries, emphasizing the long-term benefits of such practices.

Court: “Watching porn in one’s privacy not an offence under Section 292 of IPC”

In summation, the Kerala High Court’s judgment stands as a landmark decision that upholds the principles of privacy and individual rights. It reinforces the notion that personal choices, as long as they remain within the bounds of the law, should be respected and protected. The court’s guidance to parents serves as a poignant reminder of the critical role that responsible parenting plays in the digital age. As a result of this judgment, the petitioner’s ongoing legal proceedings were quashed, marking a significant legal precedent in favor of personal privacy and individual freedoms.

The verdict’s implications extend beyond this specific case, underscoring the importance of preserving an individual’s right to make personal choices in matters of privacy. The court’s recognition of the delicate balance between individual rights and legal boundaries reflects the evolving landscape of privacy rights in the digital era. This ruling reinforces the need for careful consideration of legal and ethical questions surrounding personal choices and privacy in an increasingly interconnected world.

As Justice P.V. Kunhikrishnan aptly put it in the judgment, “A Court of Law cannot declare that watching porn in private amounts to an offence because it is a person’s private choice. To interfere with the same would tantamount to an intrusion of privacy for such person.” This statement underscores the court’s commitment to safeguarding individual privacy rights in the face of evolving societal norms and technological advancements.

The court’s assertion that consensual relationships between adults are not offenses further highlights its commitment to safeguarding individual liberties and reinforcing the importance of privacy rights. In a world where access to explicit content has become increasingly prevalent due to digital technology, this judgment serves as a crucial reminder of the legal boundaries surrounding personal choices and actions.

However, the court also issued a stern warning to parents regarding the potential dangers of unsupervised access to mobile phones by minor children. The court’s emphasis on responsible parenting underscores the importance of educating and guiding the younger generation in the digital age. As technology continues to play a central role in our lives, parents must remain vigilant and proactive in protecting their children from potentially harmful content.

In conclusion, the Kerala High Court’s judgment represents a significant legal precedent in the ongoing discourse surrounding privacy rights and personal choices. It sends a clear message that individuals have a fundamental right to make private choices without fear of legal repercussions as long as they remain within the boundaries of the law. The court’s guidance to parents serves as a valuable reminder of the crucial role parents play in shaping the digital experiences of their children and safeguarding their well-being. Ultimately, this ruling reaffirms the importance of respecting and upholding individual privacy rights in an ever-changing digital landscape.

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