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Overview of The Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, 1986

The laws related to obscenity is codified in provisions of the Indian Penal code ,In spite of provision there were indecent representation of women in publications, advertisement ,etc. Indecent representation of women or reference to women started affecting the morality of the society and had the effect of denigrating women. To deal with such a situation the Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Bill was introduced in the parliament to Prohibit indecent representation of women through advertisement or in publications, paintings, writings, painting or in any other matter.

The Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Bill having been passed by both the Houses of Parliament received the assent of the President on 23rd December, 1986. It came into force on 2-10-1987.The Act is to prohibit indecent reprentation of women through advertisements or in publications, writings, paintings, and figures or in any other manner and for matters connected. The Act has ten total sections.

Section 2 define different definition:
  • "advertisement" includes any notice, circular, label, wrapper or other document and also includes any visible representation made by means of any light, sound, smoke or gas;
  • "distribution" includes distribution by way of samples whether free or otherwise;
  • "indecent representation of women" means the depiction in any manner of the figure of a woman, her form or body or any part thereof in such a way as to have the effect of being indecent, or derogatory to, or denigrating, women, or is likely to deprave, corrupt or injure the public morality or morals;
  • "label" means any written, marked, stamped, printed or graphic matter, affixed to, or appearing upon, any package;
  • "package" includes a box, carton, tin or other container;
  • "prescribed" means prescribed by rules made under this Act.
Section 3: Prohibition of advertisement containing indecent representation of women it states that no person shall publish or cause to be published or arrange or indecent representation of women in any form.

Section 4: No person shall produce or cause to be produce, sell, distribute, sell, or send by post any book, pamphlet ,paper ,photograph or any figure or anything which contains indecent representation of women in any form:
  1. That nothing in this section shall apply to any book, pamphlet, paper, slide painting, drawing ,photograph, figure as being for the public good ,or in the interest of science, literature, art, or learning or other objects of general concern or which is kept or used bona fide for religious purpose.
  2. Any representation sculptured, engraved, painted or otherwise represented on or in-(i) any ancient monument within the meaning of the Ancient Monument and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958 (24 of 1958); or(ii) any temple, or on any car used for the conveyance of idols, or kept or used for any religious purpose;
  3. Any film in respect of which the provisions of Part II of the Cinematograph Act, 1952 (37 of 1952), will be applicable.

Section 5: Define who will be officer and who will appoint hin and this section also define powers and function of the appointed officer.
  • Any Gazette officer authorized by the state Government may within the local limits of the area for which he is so authorized.
  • He may enter and search at all reasonable times, with assistance if any he considered necessary, to any place in which he has reason to believe that an offence under this Act has been or is being committed.
  • He may seize any advertisement or any book, pamphlet, paper, or anything which he has reason to believe contravenes any of the provisions of this Act.
  • He may examine any record, register, document, or any other material object found in any place mentioned in clause (a) and seize the same if he has reason to believe that it may furnish evidence of the commission of an offense punishable under this Act.
  • No entry shall be made into a private dwelling house without a warrant.
  • The provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 shall apply to any search or seizure under this Act as they apply to any search or seizure made under the authority of a warrant issued under section 94.
  • Where any person seizes anything under the Act, he shall, as soon as may be, inform the nearest Magistrate and take his orders as to the custody.

Section 6 Penalty: First conviction shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, and with fine which may extend to two thousand rupees, and if for second or subsequent conviction with imprisonment for a term of not less than six months but which may extend to five years and also with not less than ten thousand rupees but which may extend to one Lakh rupees.

Section 7 Offences by companies: Every person who at that time the offence was commited was in charge of and was responsible to the company for the conduct of the business of the company as well as the company shall be deemed to be guilty of the offence and shall be liable to proceeded against and punished.

No person will be liable to punishment if he proves that the offence was committed without his Knowledge or he had exercised all due diligence to prevent the commission of such Offence.

Section 9 No legal action and legal proceeding shall lie against the Central Government or any State Government or any officer f the Central Government or any State Government for anything which is in good faith done or intended to be done under the Act.

Case laws:
  • Maneka Gandhi vs Union of India (1978):
    In judgment it expand the scope of Article 21 that it covers not only the right to life and personal liberty but also include other Fundamental Rights that are important for the meaningful life. Supreme Court ruled the Article 21 not only talks about physical existence but also include the right to live with dignity.
  • Chanda Rajkumari and Anr., vs Commissioner of Police (1997):
    It was held by the curt that indecent representation of women in beauty contents infringes upon Fundamental Rights enshrined in Article 14,21 and 51A of the constitution of India.
The Act is a law for maintaining women dignity, integrity and uphold its reputation. This act provide penalties who will act against the act but the punishment which are given are not strict and more over the Act description is non exhaustive as it left open to interpretation by the courts.

As now days we know the new form of crime evolved that is cyber crime by which different crimes are done such as bulling, body shaming, revenge pornography, bullying or pictures of women are represented in indecent way so all these new crime also include indecent representation of women's so according to new crimes and technology advancement this act need amendment in definition clause and penalty clause and there should we more strict laws and punishment should be made.

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