Second offence may attract imprisonment up to seven years

The Union Cabinet on Thursday cleared a proposal to broaden the scope of the Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, 1986, and make the punishment harsher.

The penalty may be enhanced to a maximum of three years of imprisonment and a fine between Rs. 50, 000 and Rs. 1 lakh for the first conviction.

An offender convicted for the second time can be awarded a jail sentence of not less than two years, which may be extended up to seven years, and asked to pay a fine between Rs. 1 lakh and Rs. 5 lakh.

The law will cover audio-visual media and material in electronic form. Police officers not below the rank of inspectors are authorised to carry out search and seizure, in addition to State and Central government officers.

A senior Women and Child Development Ministry official said: “We hope the stricter provisions will help in addressing the problem of increased objectification of women and cover the newer forms of communication including the Internet, multimedia messaging etc., beyond the print and audio-visual media.’’

A note issued by the Ministry said the law was enacted with the aim of prohibiting indecent representation of women in advertisements and publications.

However, since the existing legislation lacked the focus necessary to protect women from exploitation, particularly from the increasing use of advanced technology and communication devices in everyday life, it was felt that the Act needed amendment.

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