Sections 67 and 67A: No nudity, please

Part of The Information Technology (Amendment) Act, 2008

The large amounts of ‘obscene’ material that circulate on the Internet have long attracted comment in India. Not surprsingly, then, in the same way as obscenity is prohobited offline in the country, so it is online as well. The most important tools to curtail it are sections 67 and 67A of the IT Act, prohibiting obscene and sexually explicit material respectively.   Read More

The fact that our lawmakers felt two provisions are required to deal with such material is interesting. Where the offline world is concerned, the law only prohibits obscenity. Online, however, the publication and transmission of sexually explicit material is further singled out, and made punishable, explicitly. Although much of this material would likely have fallen under the obscenity laws as well, in that sense a new crime has been created under the law.

Moreover, punishments for publishing sexually explicit material are higher than punishments for publishing obscene material under the IT Act, and in both cases, punishments are considerable higher than for comparable crimes offline.

Section 67 reads:

67. Punishment for publishing or transmitting obscene material in electronic form

Whoever publishes or transmits or causes to be published or transmitted 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, shall be punished on first conviction with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years and with fine which may extend to five lakh rupees and in the event of second or subsequent conviction with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to five years and also with fine which may extend to ten lakh rupees.

Section 67A reads:

67A. Punishment for publishing or transmitting of material containing sexually explicit act, etc., in electronic form

Whoever publishes or transmits or causes to be published or transmitted in the electronic form any material which contains sexually explicit act or conduct shall be punished on first conviction with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to five years and with fine which may extend to ten lakh rupees and in the event of second or subsequent conviction with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to seven years and also with fine which may extend to ten lakh rupees.

PROVIDED that provisions of section 67, section 67A [and section 67B, which prohibits child pornography] does not extend in any book, pamphlet, paper, writing, drawing, painting representation or figure in electronic form—

(i) the publication of which is proved to be justified as being for the public good on the ground that such book, pamphlet, paper, writing, drawing, painting representation or figure is in the interest of science, literature, art or learning or other objects of general concern; or

(ii)which is kept or used for bona fide heritage or religious purposes.


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