Nude picture of woman 'not obscene' if it carries social message: SC

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New Delhi, Feb 7: In a surprising judgment, the Supreme Court has said that the "picture of nude woman per se is not obscene" particularly when the context where it appears conveys a social message.

The ruling is related to a nude picture of the controversial tennis star Boris Becker and his fiancee Barbara Feltus in 1993. Boris shocked the Germans by posing nude for the cover of 'Stern' magazine, as a protest against racism.

The picture was reportedly taken by an African-American photographer Harlan Feltus, father of Barbara Feltus.

The tennis star Boris Becker posed nude with his fiancee on a mag cover in 1993.

The renowned Indian publications The Telegraph and Sports World (now defunct) republished the photograph and a local court in West Bengal ordered criminal proceedings against both publications under IPC Section 292 (sale of obscene material) and provisions under the Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, 1986.

Both the publications appealed to the apex court and questioned how carrying of the image was indecent and obscene.

While quashing the local court's order and all proceedings against the publications, the apex court bench headed by Justices KS Radhakrishnan and AK Sikri pronounced, "The message, the photograph wants to convey is that the colour of skin matters little and love champions over colour," adding that the picture conveyed the message to eradicate evil of racism and apartheid.

"Breast of Barbara Feltus has been fully covered with the arm of Boris Becker... a photograph, of course semi-nude but taken by none other than father of Barbara. The photograph, in our view, has no tendency to deprave or corrupt the minds of people in whose hands the magazine or the daily would fall", the bench added.

The bench applied yardstick that any nude/semi-nude woman's picture, per se, cannot be called as obscene, "unless it has tendency to arouse feeling or revealing an overt sexual desire", besides being designed to "excite sexual passion" in an average person's mind.

OneIndia News

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