Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal on Monday got support from Press Council chief, Justice Markandey Katju, who said that he favoured filtering of “offensive material” on social networking sites as it could promote religious hatred.

“The pictures and other content show religious figures of certain communities in a highly offensive and even pornographic manner. Such material is bound to create religious hatred and lead to most undesirable consequences,” the former Supreme Court judge said in a statement.

His comments come in the wake of the controversy triggered by Mr. Sibal's comments about objectionable material on the Internet.

Justice Katju said that following the controversy he had carefully examined the content, pictorial and the rest on the Internet and had come across highly offensive material.

“The pictures I have seen not only hurt the religious sentiments of members of certain religious communities, but are also outrageous, inflammatory and egregious, and are bound to disturb peace and result in serious law and order problems.”

He said that as per section 153A of the IPC, it is a criminal offence to promote, or attempt to promote disharmony, feelings of enmity or hatred or ill-will among different religious communities or groups, or do an act which is prejudicial to the maintenance of harmony among different religious groups or communities, and which is likely to disturb public tranquillity.

“I have carefully perused the material in question and am of the opinion that there can be no manner of doubt that they attract Section 153A of the Indian Penal Code. Hence I am of the view that such offensive material should be removed or filtered out from the social network sites on the Internet immediately.

“Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution which provides for freedom of the media, is subject to Article 19 (2) which states that restrictions can be placed on this freedom in the interest of public order, decency and morality.

“I strongly support freedom of the media; no freedom is absolute, and all freedoms are subject to reasonable restrictions in the public interest.”

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