Indecent portrayal of women on internet and other applications such as WhatsApp, Instagram, Skype etc. will soon be punishable
Recognizing technological advancements in the field of communication such as social media platforms, over the top services etc. and based on the observations of the Parliamentary Standing Committee and National Commission for Women, the Ministry of Women and Child Development (WCD) has proposed amendments to theIndecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, 1986 (Act) .
The Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act,1986 (Act) was enacted to prohibit indecent representation of women through advertisements, publications, writings, paintings, figures or in any other manner. The coverage related primarily to the print media. Ever since the enactment of the Act, technological revolution has resulted in the development of new forms of communication, such as internet, multi-media messaging, cable television, over-the-top (OTT) services and applications e.g. Skype, Viber, WhatsApp, Chat On, Snapchat, Instagram etc. In view of these technological advancements, it has been decided to widen the scope of the law so as to cover such forms of media on one hand and to strengthen the existing safeguards to prevent indecent representation of women through any media form on the other.
In a recent PIB Release dated 4th June, 2018, there is a mention of a reformulated Bill which proposes following amendments to the Act:
- Amendment in definition of term advertisement to include digital form or electronic form or hoardings, or through SMS, MMS etc.
- Amendment in definition of distribution to include publication, license or uploading using computer resource, or communication device;
- Insertion of a new definition to define the term publish.
- Amendment in section 4 to include that “No person shall publish or distribute or cause to be published or cause to be distributed by any means any material which contains indecent representation of women in any form.”
- Penalty similar to that provided under the Information Technology Act, 2000.
- Creation of a Centralised Authority under the aegis of National Commission of Women (NCW). This Authority will be headed by Member Secretary, NCW, having representatives from Advertising Standards Council of India, Press Council of India, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and one member having experience of working on women issues.
- This Centralised Authority will be authorized to receive complaints or grievances regarding any programme or advertisement broadcasted or publication and investigate/ examine all matters relating to the indecent representation of women.
We will keep you posted about the reconstituted Bill and further developments in this regard.