A picture of a nude or semi-nude woman published in newspapers or magazines cannot be called obscene unless it has the tendency to arouse “sexual passion”, the Supreme Court has ruled in a verdict that also upholds the right to freedom of speech and expression.
Quashing a 20-year-old criminal case of obscenity against the editors of The Telegraph and Sportsworld magazine (now defunct), a bench comprising justices KS Radhakrishnan and AK Sikri said: “The picture should be suggestive of (depraved) mind and designed to excite sexual passion ...”
Criminal proceedings were initiated against the two editors after a picture of former Wimbledon champion Boris Becker posing nude with his then fiancé and film actress Barbara Feltus was published in 1993. On a complaint filed, the editors were prosecuted under the Indecent Representation of Women Act.
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Referring to the magazine, which carried Becker’s article on racial discrimination in Germany, the court said: “The message the photograph wants to convey is that the colour of skin matters little and love champions over colour.”
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