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Since the arrest of actress Shilpa Shetty’s husband Raj Kundra for making and transmitting pornographic videos, one question which is being asked everywhere is whether watching pornographic content is illegal in India?
Is watching porn legal in India
There is no clear indication of the legality of watching porn n India. However, the rules can be interpreted with reference to Article 21 of the Indian Constitution. Article 21 gives the right to life and personal liberty to Indian Citizens. Hence watching pornographic content in your private rooms or space cannot be considered illegal.
In 2015 the Supreme Court of India during a verdict had orally remarked that in a case watching porn in a private room may fall under the right to personal liberty given under the Constitution. This cannot be taken away by any authority, except by procedure established by Law.
What is illegal?
Watching pornographic content which depicts child pornography or rape or violence against women is an offence even if it is being watched in a private space.
The POCSO Act 2012, Section 14, makes it illegal to "use a child or children for pornographic purposes," with a minimum sentence of five years in prison and a fine. It stipulates a minimum term of seven years in prison and a fine in the event of a second or subsequent conviction.
It is also prohibited to save or possess child pornography "for transmitting, propagating, displaying, or distributing" it in any way, according to Section 15 of the POCSO Act. Only storing or holding pornographic material for the purpose of reporting it to authorities or presenting it as evidence in court is an exemption.
Section 15 also provides for enhanced punishment of three to five years imprisonment for anyone who stores or possesses child pornography for commercial purposes.
With pornographic material largely available in electronic form, the IT Act 2000 makes it illegal to publish or transmit obscene material or material containing sexually explicit acts in electronic form.
Even though it is not clear on the law, the government has blocked hundreds of pornographic websites. The blocks are restricted to the websites listed by the Department of Telecommunications of the central government. Replying to an RTI query, the government says that hundreds of porn sites are blocked on the network run by Jio, Airtel, BSNL and others because of 3 court orders. The reply also said that the Government is not issuing directions to block porn unless it is child pornography.
Recently FIR has been registered against OTT platforms Hotshot, Ullu, Hotmasti, Chikooflix, Kukoo, Primeflix, Flizmovies, Neoflix, Feneo and web portals such as pornhub, videos and xhamster. However, the streaming providers overcome this by renaming the site address.