- Any citizen with a conscience, common sense and rationality to assess the situation would be left baffled as to why the Indian policymakers continue to procrastinate from decisively going ahead with repealing some of the most anachronistic laws prevalent in the country. Despite concerted efforts by the civil society activists, intelligentsia, academicians, thinkers, and NGOs berating the lawmakers from time to time to reconsider repealing certain outdated laws in the present times, the political masters refuse to heed to those urgings for reasons best known to them. Under the guise of disturbing the peaceful existence and leading to violence/disharmony, the law enforcement agencies taking umbrage under such outdated laws are simply unacceptable.
PC: Yashika Sharma & Arvind Sharma
- But are the law enforcement agencies to be blamed for the sin of policymakers who completely turn blind eyes to happenings around them? Not at all. Take for instance the recent storm created by film actor Ranveer Singh posing nude for a magazine photoshoot. As is its wont, the social media was on fire what with those photos going viral in no time. Even though several welcomed the bold shoot of the actor, many felt offended as well. There the matter should have ended. However, the actor is now booked by Mumbai police for obscenity. This is utterly absurd and what is even more absurd and dangerous is that no one with the power to correct this absurdity is likely to intervene and ask cops to withdraw the FIR.
- Note that Ranveer has been booked under Section 292 of IPC, which includes anything that is lascivious, appeals to prurient interest, or tends to deprave or corrupt persons likely to read, see or hear the matter. No wonder because obscenity is defined in such a ridiculously loose and vague manner in Indian law that moralists, cops, and lower courts get so many opportunities to harass citizens. Remember how another actor Shilpa Shetty is still fighting an equally absurd obscenity case filed in 2007? The reason, was because someone chose to be offended by American actor Richard Gere kissing Shilpa, police in Rajasthan filed an FIR. Even though the magistrate’s court discharged Shilpa, Rajasthan police filed an appeal 15 years after the FIR.
PC: Bharat Chugh
- Another instance comes to mind as models Madhu Sapre and Milind Soman had to wait 14 years before their acquittal in 2009 in the obscenity case over the 1995 Tuff shoe advertisement. Needless to mention, laws like Section 292 of IPC are totally out of sync with any modern, democratic society and kill the law without batting an eyelid. Mind you, police have the full discretion to not register FIRs if they deem the complaint to be frivolous. Magistrate courts should issue quick discharges to discourage police. And if they don’t. high courts should use their writ jurisdiction to quash FIRs and impose substantial penalties on complainants. As it is Indian judiciary is beseeched with 4.5 crores pending cases. Clogging further with frivolous cases will be even more counterproductive and tantamount to no less than the offense itself.