The cyber law awareness in India is spreading among the Indian judiciary. Indian judiciary is actively taking part in making the Indian cyber law more appropriate and reasonable. Recently, the Delhi High Court recommended setting up of a statutory regulatory body for regulating the electronic media.
Even the Supreme Court of India is hearing a public interest litigation to ask Indian government to formulate regulations and guidelines for effective investigation of cyber crimes in India. Now the Supreme Court of India has sought response from the central government over blocking of porn websites in India, especially those dealing with child pornography.
Websites blocking in India is a tricky issue. This is so because websites blocking in India is mainly a judicial act. However, judicial decisions for blocking of websites in India are not always very reasoned and reasonable. The truth is that India judiciary, cyber law and websites blocking in India is still far from perfect.
There is no second opinion that Indian government can and should block offending websites. For instance, the Indian government is considering fraudulent multi level marketing companies’ regulation in India. In order to make it effective the Indian government has announced the possible blocking of the websites of suspected multi level marketing companies’ in India.
Although Indian government has very vast and unregulated websites blocking powers yet these powers are either not exercised at all or they are exercised with utter disregard to constitutional protections. There is nothing that restricts the Indian government to ban and block pornography websites in India but the government has failed to do so till now.
Take the example of e-commerce websites of India that are promoting publication of soft porn on their websites. For instance, the e-commerce sites selling adult merchandise in India are committing criminal offences and Indian government is not doing anything in this regard. Similarly, the e-commerce websites frauds, offences and crimes in India have increased significantly yet Indian government has failed to take punitive action against such websites.
Cyber litigations against foreign websites would increase in India as that is the natural trend to follow. Very recently the summoning orders for CEO of maxim magazine for obscene morphed picture were quashed by Delhi High Court. Even media is promoting soft porn in India.
In this background, the efforts of Indian Supreme Court are worth praising. The Supreme Court has sought response from the government on a plea to block and ban porn sites on the Internet, particularly those showing child pornography.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Altamas Kabir issued notices to Ministries of Information and Technology, Information and Broadcasting and Home Affairs and Internet Service Providers Association of India on a petition seeking to bring an anti-pornography law.
The petition filed by Indore-based advocate Kamlesh Vaswani said watching obscene videos are not an offence but it is one of the major causes for crime against women. At the beginning, the bench was reluctant to entertain the petition on the ground that the issue could be dealt under the information technology act 2000.
However, senior advocate M N Krishnamani, appearing for the petitioner, informed the Court that filing complaint under the cyber law was not the solution as certain provisions in it are ultra vires of the Constitution. In fact, it has also been suggested by some experts that the cyber law of India should be repealed as it contains many unconstitutional provisions that cannot stand the constitutional scrutiny.
We would report more on this issue once the Indian government files its response.