Sending porno multimedia messages may soon invite prison term

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New Delhi: Soon, sending a pornographic multimedia message and emails may land you in jail for a maximum period of three years.

The Union Cabinet, at a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, approved amendments to the Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act (IRWA), 1986 which also proposes to slap hefty fines on persons found guilty of such acts.

"The amendments broaden the scope of the law to cover the audio-visual media and material in electronic form," an official statement said here.

The amendments were necessitated as the current act covers only the print media.

The changes also enhance the amount of fine to be slapped against persons found guilty of such acts from Rs 2,000 to a minimum of Rs 50,000 going upto Rs one lakh for the first conviction.

In case of repeat of the offence, the imprisonment may extend to seven years and a fine between Rs one lakh and Rs five lakh for second conviction.

Police officers not below the rank of Inspectors are authorised to carry out search and seizure, in addition to State and Central Government officers authorised by the State or Central Government, it said.

These amendments seek to ensure that more effective protection is provided against indecent representation of women by covering newer forms of communication like Internet, multimedia messaging, beyond the print and audio-visual media, it said.

"This would aid in addressing the problem of increased objectification of women thereby ensuring dignity of women," the release said.

The IRWA was enacted with the specific objective of prohibiting the indecent representation of women through advertisement, publication, writing, and painting or in any other manner, the official release said.

However, over the years, technological revolution has resulted in the development of newer forms of communication such as Internet and satellite based communication, multi-media messaging, cable television, it said.

It has, therefore, become imperative 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 such form, the release said.

Extensive consultations were held with stakeholders including lawyers and civil society organisations on the draft Bill, before its finalisation, it said.

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