Children painting on mother’s semi-nude body gives wrong impression about our culture: SC
The court was hearing an anticipatory bail by Fathima AS, who is apprehending arrest for offences under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012, and Information Technology (IT) Act, 2000, after she uploaded a video on social media of her two minor children painting on her semi-nude body in June.Updated: Aug 07, 2020 15:21 IST
The Supreme Court (SC) on Friday took exception to a Kerala-based activist uploading a video on social media of her two minor children painting on her semi-nude body.
A three-judge SC bench, headed by Justice Arun Mishra, remarked that such acts are in bad taste and give children the wrong impression about the country’s culture.
“You might be an activist, but why do you do all these? What kind of nonsense is this? What impression will your kids get about the culture of the country?” Justice Mishra asked.
The court was hearing an anticipatory bail by Fathima AS, who is apprehending arrest for offences under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012, and Information Technology (IT) Act, 2000, after she uploaded a video on social media of her two minor children painting on her semi-nude body in June.
The controversial video led to the registration of the case against her indulging in child pornography under the POCSO Act, 2012, and for publishing such content, which is an offence, under the IT Act, 2000.
The Kerala high court (HC) had rejected her anticipatory bail plea on July 24.
“It is an obscenity. And you are spreading it. It will leave a very bad taste,” Justice Mishra said.
Senior counsel Gopal Sankaranarayanan, who appeared on behalf of Fathima, pointed out that provisions relating to child pornography have been invoked against her and not obscenity.
“How can it be child pornography? The children are fully clothed,” he submitted.
He argued that the petitioner is not someone, who will abscond, and there was no requirement of custodial interrogation.
The bench, however, dismissed the case stating the offences against the accused are prima facie made out.
Fathima, in her petition, had contended that female nudity, per se, will not constitute obscenity and children painting on their mother’s body cannot be construed as child abuse.
“The petitioner, while being semi-nude, has allowed her body to be used as a canvas for her children to paint on and there can probably be nobody, except a pervert, who would be aroused to sexual desire by seeing the nature of the work,” advocate Renjith Marar argued.
Her message, accompanying the uploaded edited video, illustrated that she intended to normalise the female form for her children and not allow distorted ideas about sexuality to pervade their mind, Fathima submitted.
“The petitioner feels that she should teach sex education to her children. For that purpose, she asks her children to paint on her semi-nude body and then uploading the same on social media. I am not in a position to agree with the petitioner that she should teach sex education to her children in this manner,” the Kerala HC had said in its order.
She also cited two SC judgments in this regard to buttress her case.
The first was the 2014 judgment in Aveek Sarkar v. State of West Bengal in which the top court held that a photograph, taken by a father of his semi-nude daughter and nude son-in-law in black and white, respectively, was intended to convey an anti-apartheid message and cannot be dubbed obscene.
The second judgment referred to Bobby Art International v. Om Pal, or, what is famously known as the Bandit queen case.
In this case, the movie, Bandit Queen, which depicted the life of bandit-turned-politician late Phoolan Devi, had nude scenes. The apex court, however, held that nudity in the movie was not intended to arouse carnal desires, but should be considered in the context of the story and the situation in the movie.
“Goddesses in Kerala are frequently depicted in idols and murals with bare breasts. When one prays at a temple, the feeling is not of sexual arousal, but one of divinity. The body painting of men is part of pulikali (a popular folk dance, where men dance with their bodies painted with tigers and leopard prints). It cannot suddenly become obscene, when the same is done on a woman,” the plea stated.
Earlier, Fathima had courted controversy, when she attempted to enter the Sabarimala temple in 2018 after the SC had struck down a law prohibiting entry of women, aged between 10 and 50 years,
in the hilltop shrine in Kerala’s Pathanamthitta district.
She had to abandon her journey following massive protests by a mob, who had blocked her entry to the sacred shrine.