Child pornography can only be tackled by inculcating right values; public awareness or "Big Brother" watching not enough: Madras High Court

18th June,2021

Child pornography can only be tackled by inculcating right values; public awareness or "Big Brother" watching not enough: Madras High Court


The Madras High Court recently granted anticipatory bail to a man accused of watching child pornography online, observing that the threat of child pornography can only be addressed via moral education and instilling the proper values in all. While Section 43 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses (POCSO) Act, 2012 requires the government to take steps to raise public awareness, Justice GR Swaminathan believes that even if online surveillance is in place, it may not be enough to discourage potential criminals. This might not be enough on its own. The fact that "Big Brother" is watching us may not stop those who are hell-bent on doing such heinous deeds. It's also possible that the system won't be able to prosecute every perpetrator. As a result, there can only be a route out through moral instruction. Only the Bharatiya culture can serve as a safeguard. He noted that the threat of child pornography can only be addressed if we all instil the appropriate values. While watching pornography in secret may be considered part of one's right to free speech and privacy, child pornography is a serious crime that falls outside this circle of liberty, according to the Judge.
"Privately viewing pornography will not be considered a crime. An conduct that is prohibited by law and penalised is referred to as an offence. Section 40 of the IPC has this definition. There is currently no law forbidding such private conduct. Some even argue that it is protected by one's right to free expression and privacy. However, child pornography is not included in this circle of liberty. Section 67-B of the Information Technology Act of 2000 makes it illegal to engage in any act related to child pornography. As a result, simply watching child pornography is illegal ", according to the decision. Section 15 (1) of the POCSO, 2012, and Section 67B of the Information Technology Act, 2000 were cited in the criminal complaint filed against the petitioner. "Of course, child pornography is a serious problem that requires a stern response. However, I would distinguish between a one-time consumer and those that transmit, disseminate, show, or distribute data in the digital arena. In the matter at hand, the petitioner is accused of sending the incriminating material to a friend over Facebook Messenger. I am inclined to grant anticipatory bail to the petitioner because he has not received any adverse notice as a result of the incident and has also provided his full cooperation with the investigation "The Court added.