Photo: Pradeep Gaur/Mint
Photo: Pradeep Gaur/Mint

Supreme Court asks govt to find ways to ban child pornography on Internet

To tackle pornography, the government has usually relied on getting Internet service providers to block access to a particular website's URL

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday asked the central government to inform the court on how it plans to ban child pornography on the Internet. The question came during the hearing of a public interest litigation filed by advocate Kamlesh Vaswani to ban pornography websites in the country.

Additional solicitor general Pinky Anand told the court that the centre was working on a new plan to tackle child pornography.

“We have had expert meetings with the department of telecommunications and we simply cannot regulate all porn content. There are jurisdictional issues involved," Anand told a bench comprising justices Dipak Mishra and Shiva Kirti Singh.

To tackle pornography, the government has usually relied on getting Internet service providers (ISPs) to block access to a particular website’s URL. This method is usually ineffective as most such websites continue to operate by simply changing their URLs.

The government has also maintained that it cannot (and will not regulate all pornography) but block only child pornography.

The court questioned the centre’s stand .

“When the law prohibits obscenity and pornography is directly obscene content, then you have to ban it. How you do it and what mechanism you follow is a different issue," justice Mishra said.

The Indian Penal Code and the Information Technology (IT) Act prohibit the production or transmission of so-called “obscene material" even though there is no law explicitly prohibiting pornography.

Publishing or transmitting obscene material electronically can carry a three years sentence, if an offender is convicted under the IT Act.

The petition, filed by lawyer Kamlesh Vaswani in 2013, asked for a direction to the central government to block pornographic websites, platforms and links.

“Innocent children cannot be made prey to these kind of painful situations, and a nation, by no means, can afford to carry any kind of experiment with its children in the name of liberty and freedom of expression," the court said.

The case will be heard next on 28 March.

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