‘Govt Can’t Be Present in Everyone’s Bedroom’

Govt climbs down on porn sites ban

NEW DELHI: Union government Monday clarified that it does not want to play the moral police by intruding into the privacy of its citizens who like to watch porn in their rooms, agencies report.

The clarification came while hearing a PIL filed by an Indore-based lawyer Kamlesh Vaswani who sought a ban on porn saying they were leading to sexual assaults on women.

India is not a totalitarian state. All that the centre wants is to protect children by banning child pornography websites, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi told a three-judge bench led by Chief Justice H.L. Dattu Monday.

The government’s U-turn comes a few days after its short-lived ban on the porn sites, which sparked a national outrage.

The communications and information technology ministry directed internet service providers to restore access to those among 857 websites which were blocked over the weekend, but sites that featured child pornography would continue to be prohibited.

Rohatgi said the issue of formulating a law for blocking other porn sites could be left to the people to debate and not the court.

“We cannot become a totalitarian state. Somebody wants to watch porn in the privacy of his room, can we prevent that? We are now talking Digital India. We are at a stage when the PM has asked citizens to put what he should say in his Independence Day speech… when we are going to stage… we can’t go and ban people from watching this and that,” he submitted.

While underlining the need to ban child  pornography, he said it is a hard task  catching those who violate the ban.

“In the old days, there were magazines. All one had to do was stop the distribution of the publication. Now how can we stop someone from watching porn on their mobile phones,” he asked.

The Supreme Court agreed to hear the matter in detail on a later date.

Earlier, after the government went ahead with the ban saying the idea was to “protect the cultural fabric of the country,” Indians protested, accusing the Hindu nationalist government of moral policing and infringing on their personal freedom.

“Don’t ban porn. Ban men ogling, leering, brushing past, groping, molesting, abusing, humiliating and raping women. Ban non-consent. Not sex,” author Chetan Bhagat wrote on Twitter earlier.

Later, he welcomed the lifting of the ban. “Glad government had another look at porn ban order and ensured individual freedom was not compromised. A responsive government is always good,” he wrote.

India’s ban on child pornography comes at a time when a child porn scandal involving about 280 children has shocked the conscience of a neighboring country.

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