Bombay High Court: Obscene Acts In A Private Space Are Not A Crime

20/03/2016 9:50 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:26 AM IST
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NEW DELHI --The Bombay High Court has ruled that an obscene act, which is carried out in a private place and does not bother anyone else, is not a crime.

Earlier this month, Justice Naresh Patil and Justice A.M. Badar said that India Penal Code Section 294 is only meant for obscene acts in public places.

"Viewed from this angle, the flat/apartment in a building owned by some private person meant for private use of such owner cannot be said to be a public place," they said in their judgment of March 10, The Times of India reported today.

In December 2015, a journalist reportedly complained to the police about a private party in a flat.

A description of the party in the TOI report said, "scantily-dressed women were dancing and making obscene gestures at customers and that the latter were showering money on them."

Press Trust of India reported that the 13 men in the flat were also consuming liquor.

After raiding the flat, the police registered an FIR against its owner and six women, TOI reported. PTI reported that an FIR was registered against all 13 men.

The PTI report carried passages of the Bombay High Court judgment.

"Obscene act done in a private place or viewed in privacy is not covered by the provisions of section 294 of IPC. The flat in building owned by some private person meant for private use of such owner cannot be said to be a public place."

"Section 294 of IPC is meant for punishing persons indulging in obscene act in any public place causing annoyance to others. As such, the places where such obscene act is committed needs to be a public place and meant for use of public at large."

"Public must have free access to such place so as to call it a public place. The place where public have no right rather a lawful right to enter into, cannot be said to be a public place for invoking the penal provisions of section 294 of IPC."

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