In two cases, the Madurai bench of the Madras high court has directed the Tamil Nadu government and Centre to ensure that ‘obscene’ content is removed from social media sites and television observing that it will otherwise affect young minds amid a rise in crimes against women and children.
Hearing a batch of public interest litigations (PILs), on Wednesday, the bench comprising justices N Kirubakaran and B Pugalendhi directed that the teaser of a Tamil movie, Irandam Kuthu, be removed from social media for propagating vulgarity (as per Cinematograph Act, 1952).
The Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) has given an ‘A’ rating for the film after 32 cuts and is slated for a Diwali release. It is a sequel to a 2018 movie by the same director and comes under the genre of erotic-horror-comedy. The petition (filed by a cultural outfit, Samuganeethi Kalvi Panpattu Maiyam) listed all the sexual innuendos in the teaser’s dialogues. It appealed that children attending online classes due to Covid-19 had the “possibility of uncontrolled viewership” of the movie’s “vulgar and obscene teaser”. Though the petition sought an injunction against the film, the court said it was not in its limits to restrain the movie.
“The court has also directed to take penal action under sections 67 and 67a (of the Information Technology Act, 2000 prohibiting obscene and sexually explicit material). So those who have produced and directed the movie will have to face consequences,” said a senior lawyer in the case who did not wish to be named as the court is yet to issue copies of its order.
“Social media is a state subject. So Tamil Nadu is the appropriate respondent to issue a notice directly to the intermediary, like YouTube, to remove the indecent content under section 39 of the IT Act,” he said.
The court also ordered an interim restriction on television commercials based on another petition that stated condom advertisements are “in the nature of arousal of the prurient interest” which should not be telecast in the middle of films and serials.
“We are specifically against ads on contraceptives, underwear, soaps that promote virility,” says M Purshothaman, counsel for the petitioner, K S Sagadevaraja.
The petition said that while contraceptives are a preventive measure against birth control and sexually transmitted diseases, the ad “need not explicitly show a sexual act” which is against sections 5 and 6 in Cable Television Network (Regulation) Act, 1995.
“We pushed this matter urgently because children are hooked to TV due to the pandemic and several movies will be screened during Diwali,” Purshothaman said.
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