Declining a plea to pass an interim order to block porn websites in India, the Supreme Court on Wednesday said it cannot stop an adult from exercising his fundamental right to personal liberty to watch porn within the privacy of his room.
“Such interim orders cannot be passed by this court. Somebody may come to the court and say look I am above 18 and how can you stop me from watching it within the four walls of my room. It is a violation of Article 21 [right to personal liberty],” Chief Justice H.L. Dattu observed orally.
The Chief Justice was hearing a PIL petition filed by advocate Kamlesh Vashwani to block porn websites in India.
Mr. Vashwani had complained that the government is yet to file a response, and the court should step in now and pass some interim order which would take these sites off the Internet.
Though denying immediate relief, the Chief Justice’s Bench acknowledged the seriousness of the issue.
“The issue is definitely serious and some steps need to be taken. The Centre is expected to take a stand…let us see what stand the Centre will take,” Chief Justice Dattu observed, directing the government to reply in four weeks.
In one of the previous hearings on the PIL in August 2014, the Supreme Court had termed Internet porn “hydra-headed,” while the Centre had acknowle-dged that websites were getting too unwieldy to handle and were affecting ordinary households.
Mr. Vashwani said there are 4 crore porn websites operating in the country.
The government had then said that it was mostly helpless in implementing the law to locate and shut down the websites. It had submitted to the court that these sites were well-masked, with servers located outside the country and based on high-end technology difficult to catch up with.
The government had informed the court that it was working on an internet security policy and has taken the matter seriously with the Cyber Regulations Advisory Committee.