New Delhi, Feb 26: The Supreme Court on Friday asked the central government to suggest ways and means to curb child pornography in its all forms as it could not be allowed by invoking constitutional guarantee of liberty and freedom of speech and expression.
"Suggest ways and means so that these things are curbed. Innocent children can't be made prey to this kind of painful situations. Nation can't afford to carry on any experiment with its children in the name of liberty and freedom of speech," said a bench of Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Shiva Kirti Singh.
The court said this as the government told the court that "as far as the child pornography is concerned, exercise has been undertaken and the central government shall come with the scheme so that appropriate directions in that regard can be issued".
The court said: "What is not permissible under Indian law must be curbed, it is matter of mechanism of doing it.
"Watching pornography or compelling watching pornography can't come with the freedom of expression, speech and thought."
As Additional Solicitor General Pinki Anand tried to explain the difficulty that government faced in dealing with the issue, the court said that that watching pornography can't come with the freedom of expression, speech and thought.
Not being clear about the stand being taken by the government, the bench said it didn't understand their stand. "Are you supporting or opposing the plea" for banning child pornography, it asked.
At one point in the course of the hearing, the court sought to make distinction in pornography, obscenity and art saying that "everything that is obscene is not pornography".
"Some people will find the picture of Mona Lisa obscene, others may not," it said.
"Doing it for art purpose is different from some one doing for gains, business.."
Justice Singh said that government will have to draw a line. "You can block the child pornography websites. There has to be ways and means. What has United Kingdom done?"
The court recorded the submission by the senior counsel Vijay Panjwani appearing for the petitioner Kamlesh Vaswani that "watching pornography or being compelled to watch pornography in a public place can never come within concept of freedom of speech or expression or thought as enshrined under article 19(1)(a) of the constitution, for the freedom, as envisaged under the Constitution, is not absolute".
Directing the next hearing of the matter on March 28, the court allowed intervention by the Supreme Court Women Lawyers association seeking "strict measures to prevent distribution and access to pornography including measures regarding file sharing software".
Counsel Mahalakshmi Pavani and Sneha Lakita had further sought the adoption of "various measures towards improvement in the effectiveness of blocking child pornography on the internet and to take measures to eliminate child pornography".