New Delhi: The Ministry of Women and Child Development has proposed to ban obscene depiction of women on the Internet and on SMS/MMS by amending the Indecent Representation of Women Act, 1986.
The Ministry has also suggested that stricter punishments be awarded for such crimes on par with those recommended under the IT Act, 2008.
“The Ministry has proposed amendment in definition of the term to include digital form or electronic form or hoardings, or through SMS, MMS, etc.,” according to an official statement released on Monday.
The Act in its current form defines an advertisement as any notice, circular, label, wrapper or other document, visible representation made by means of any light, sound, smoke or gas. It seeks to prohibit indecent representation of women through advertisements, publications, writings, paintings, figures, among others.
It has also proposed setting up a central authority under the National Commission of Women, which will include representatives from Advertising Standards Council of India, Press Council of India, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and one member with experience of working on women’s issues.
The IRW Act provides for punishment of up to two years in jail for an offence committed for the first time and imprisonment of six months to five years for a second conviction.
Sections 67 and 67A of the IT Act lay down a punishment of three to five years for circulating obscene material and five to seven years for circulating sexually explicit material, respectively.
“Since the enactment of the Act, technological revolution has resulted in the development of new forms of communication, such as internet, multi-media messaging, cable television, over-the-top (OTT) services and applications e.g. Skype, Viber, WhatsApp, Chat On, Snapchat, Instagram etc. Keeping in mind these technological advancements, it has been decided to widen the scope of the law,” the statement added.
In 2012, the UPA government introduced an amendment Bill to update the law but it never saw the light of the say after it was referred to the Parliament Standing Committee.