The Kerala High Court’s directive to the State Police Chief to take up investigation of cases registered for indecent representation of women could end up as a double censorship, it is felt.
Disposing of a petition filed by Saju Pulluvazhy of Rayamangalam in Ernakulam early this week, a division bench comprising Chief Justice Manjula Chellur and Justice K. Vinod Chandran directed the DGP and the State government to strictly implement the provisions of the Indecent Representation of Women Prohibition Act, 1986.
The police had filed an affidavit saying that 113 cases were registered across the State under this Act between January 1, 2008 and August 31, 2012. The court, while ordering that the Act should be implemented in letter and spirit, said there was substance in the contention of the petitioner that there was laxity on the part of the implementing agency.
Sebastian Paul, media critic and former MP, said the police were not the competent authority to decide whether films and advertisements depict women indecently. There were agencies like the Central Board for Film Certification and Advertising Standards Council of India.
Regulatory steps should be left to the jurisdiction of competent agencies concerned and that was the democratic way of doing it. It also lessens the chance of misuse of the Act, he said.
Senior mediaperson B.R.P. Bhaskar pointed out there was also a danger in going by the number of cases registered. The number of cases registered could be deceptive as very few of these cases were actively pursued.
Mr. Bhaskar is of the opinion that the police are also not very serious about the cases registered under the Act. Most often, they just register the case and leave it at that, he said.
The directive of the Kerala High Court becomes relevant in this context. The Bench had said that the government had issued a circular in 2012 and the agency has failed to implement the provisions of the enactment in its letter and spirit.
A senior police officer said that out of the 113 cases registered, a majority were against film and advertisement posters. The figure was provided from statistics available with individual police stations and details were not readily available, he said.
The petitioner had contended that the Act had prohibited advertisements that portrayed women indecently. His case was that advertisements of textile shops, jewellery and films often carried indecent pictures of women.
The petitioner counsel Siraj Karoly said though the police were bound to prevent a cognizable offence under Section 149 of the Criminal Procedure Code and the Police Act, they turned a blind eye to such incidents. He alleged that a “vulgar dance” was performed on December 5, 2011, in connection with the inaugural function of a textile shop in Kochi city. The policemen present there did nothing to stop the violation, the petitioner pointed out. The petitioner had filed a complaint before the Ernakulam Judicial First Class Magistrate in this regard and a case was registered.