The Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, 1986

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The Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, 1986 was enacted on 23 December 1986 by 37th year of republic of India by Parliament. This Act was enacted to prohibit any representation of women indecently via advertisements or writings, paintings, figures or publications or in any other manner and for such related matters. Except State of Jammu and Kashmir it extends to whole of India.

Definitions are explained under Section 2 of the Act for words like Advertisement, Distribution, Label, Indecent Representation of Women, Package, and Prescribed. Under Section 3 of the Act any advertisement wherein any indecent representation of women in any form by any person who publish or arrange or take part in publication or exhibition is punishable.

Any paper, pamphlet, slide, film, writing drawing photos, figures that contain indecent representation of women  cannot be produced, sold or let to hire by any person but with some exceptions. Exception like, it shall not apply to any book, paper, pamphlet, painting, writing, photograph, or any figure that is done for public good or in the interest of science, art, and literature. Exceptions also apply if it is used for religious purpose and sculptures, engraved, paintings of which are an ancient monument under Ancient Monument and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act 1958 or any temples or idols used for religious purposes and any film for which Part 2 of the Cinematograph Act 1952 applies.

Section 5 of the Act explains about the Gazetted Officer appointed by State government who can make rules with regard to entry and search any place at any time where he/she believes an offence has been committed. Seizing of any book, paper, slide, film, writing, painting, that contravenes the provisions of said Act. He can examine any record, document and seize it if he believes it can be used as evidence against the commission of offence under this Act. But entry into a private house should be done with warrant. Seizing of any article that cannot be separated by reason of it being embossed can also be done under the Act and CRPC 1973 provisions will apply with regard to search and seizure and such seized items should be given to nearest Magistrate for custody.

Penalty for the crime committed under this Act is up to 2,000 rupees and imprisonment up to 2 years for the crime done for first time and if it is repeated second time then punishment can extend to 5 years and fine too may extend up to 1 lakh rupees.

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If an offence has been committed by a company or a person incharge of such company shall be deemed to be guilty of such offence and can be liable for proceedings and punishment.  But if anything done without their knowledge then he/she cannot be punished. If any offence is proved that it is done with consent of director, manager, secretary then that officer can be punished under the Act.

Offences under this ACT are cognisable and bailable notwithstanding anything contained under CRPC 1973. No proceedings can be made against Central or State Government or any officer as such for actions done in good faith and under the provisions of this Act.

Section 10 explains that Central Government can make rules to carry out the provisions of the Act after Gazette notification. Rules are made for manner of seizure of articles and manner of seizure list made and delivered to concerned person or any other matter. Each rule made under the Act should be put before Houses of Parliament when it is in session for 30 day period and the Houses can amend the rule as such.

Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Rules, 1987 dated 25th September, 1987 has been framed by Central Government which came into force on 2 October 1987. Here manner of seizure of articles, packing and dealing with advertisements seized, sealing such seized articles in some cases are explained.

Some key amendments have been proposed to the said Act to cover the scope of law wherein to cover audio visual media and electronic materials also under this Act. By adding newer forms of communication like multimedia messaging, internet etc. it will ensure proper protection is provided against indecent representation of women.

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by Sushma Javare