Mere possession of sexually explicit photos will not amount to a crime under the Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, the Kerala High Court has ruled.
The court, while quashing criminal proceedings against a man and a woman, however, made it clear that publication or distribution of such photos is punishable under the law.
"If an adult person has a photograph of himself or herself in his or her possession which is sexually explicit in nature, the provisions of the Act 60 of 1986 will not apply, unless the prosecution has a case that those photographs were distributed or published for advertisement or for any other incidental purpose," Justice Raja Vijayaraghavan said in a recent order.
The high court gave its verdict on a petition seeking to quash the proceedings against the man and the woman, pending before a magistrate court in Kollam.
The Kollam East Police had registered the case in 2008.
Police during a search operation at the transport bus stand in Kollam had checked the bags of the two persons, who were together, and found two cameras inside.
On inspection, it was found that they contained explicit pictures and videos of one of the persons.
They were arrested and the cameras were seized.
A case was registered and after investigation, a final report was put before a judicial magistrate in Kollam.
"In the case on hand, there is no case for the prosecution that the petitioners has advertised or circulated their private pictures found in the cameras which were in their possession," the high court said.
"When the factual scenario is examined in the background of the legal principles as laid down by the apex court in the state of Haryana vs Bhajan Lal, the inevitable conclusion is that the criminal proceedings against the petitioners are nothing, but an abuse of the process of law," it said.
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