Sale of Obscene Books

This article is written by- Surbhi Kumari from Amity University Patna.


The term comes from the Latin word ‘obscaena’ which suggests offstage or a cognate to the traditional Greek root term skene. This can be as a result of some probably offensive content, like sex or murder, was pictured offstage within the classical drama. The term obscenity is dynamic in nature, because it perpetually varies with the passage of your time and from nation to nation. It depends upon the standards of morality of the latest societies around the world. The future result of obscenity within the society has resulted in corrupting the thought method .Obscenity may be thought of as any act or statement that powerfully offends the current ethical standards of the society. The term may be outlined as any image, video, photograph, write -up, figure, article etc. or a public act that depraves or corrupts the mind and that appeals to the salacious interests of the society or that is against the appropriate social ethical standards.

History of Obscenity

In European country it had been regulated by one statute and in additional than one domain, it’s slightly be musing that the draft of the IPC, ready by indian Law Commission headed by Thomas Babington historiographer and submitted to the Governor-General of India Council in 1837, talked of obscenity narrowly, just as AN insult to the modesty of a lady.In 1857, the Obscene Publications Act 1857 was passed by the national parliament, and 3 years later the IPC came into effect in the country. Not like the 1837 draft, the IPC that was finally implemented. AN offence under this section is punishable, on 1st conviction, with imprisonment which can extend up 2 years with a fine of RS 2000.

Tests of obscenity

Miller check

Miller check was 1st applied by the USA, Miller v. Golden State. In this case, Melvin Miller mail-clad 5 unsure prospects to the manager which contained noticeable pictures of men and girls engaged in numerous sexual activities. once the manager browsed the mail, he filed the case of Obscenity against Mr. Miller for violating the Golden State Law.

There are 3 elements of the Miller test:

The average person, implementing the up to date community standards, would realize that a job, taken as a full, appeals to the salacious interest.

Whether the work depicts or describes, during a plainly offensive approach, sexual conduct specially outlined by the applicable state law.

The work, taken as a full, wanting serious literary, artistic, political or scientific. The work is taken into account obscene on condition that all 3 conditions are fulfilled.


Hicklin check

This check is a legal check for obscenity came from the case Regina v. Hicklin.

This check is extremely liberal, during this check The Henry Scott, United Nations agency resold copies of anti-catholic pamphlets entitled “The booth Unmasked”, showing the befoulment of the papistic profession, the iniquity of the booth and the queries place to females confession. Once the pamphlets were ordered as obscene, Benjamin Hicklin, the administrative official who was to blame for such orders as recorder, revoked the order of extermination. Hicklin commanded that Scott’s purpose had not been to corrupt public morals however to expose the foremost problems associated with the Catholic Church; Scott’s intention was innocent. Lord Chief Alexander Cockburn, writing for the court of Queen’s bench, a broad definition of obscenity, supported ascertaining “whether the tendency of the matter is to change and corrupt those whose minds are receptive to such immoral influences and into whose hands a publication of this kind could fall”.

Community standards check

This check applied in india. It says that the art or any sign is obscene on condition that the theme is against society.

Anti-Obscenity Laws in india

The Indian penal code, 1860


Section 292 & 293 prohibit publication and sale of obscene books, pamphlets that are deemed to be ‘lascivious or appeals to the salacious interests’, which embody obscene advertisements.

Section 294 prohibits obscene acts and songs.

Indecent representation of women (Prohibition Act), 1986

Information Technology (Amendment) Act, 2008

Section 67(A) says that a publication of sexual content on a social media website causes social control.

National Human Rights Commission Section 2(d) of Act, protects the dignity of women in advertisements with the State Human Rights Commission.


Aveek Sarkar vs. State of West Bengal .

In this case a German Magazine revealed a photograph of Boris Becker, a celebrated jock, sitting nude along with his bride-to-be Barbara Feltus, AN actor covering her breasts along with his hand. The image was taken by Feltus’ father. The article that contained this image was republished within the Indian newspapers and magazine. After this, a criticism was filed against the newspaper underneath Section 292 of IPC. However, the SC held that the half-nude image of Boris Becker along with his bride-to-be wasn’t obscene, once applying the community normal check, and therefore the reason is that the image isn’t obscene as a result of it didn’t excite sexual passion or to change or corrupt minds of individuals.


Ranjeet D. Udeshi v. State of Maharastra.

In this case, Ranjeet D. Udeshi is the owner of the store. There was a book named woman Chatterley’s Lover that was prohibited because the book had some obscene content and he found some copies of the book. He was guilty U/S 292 of IPC, in his charm within the highest Court he contended that:

(1) The section was void because it violated Article 19(1)(a).

(2) This section was lawful, the book wasn’t obscene content.


In our country, wherever multiple religions and cultures exist, there’s absolute conflict among them. These kinds of problems arise concerning someone’s culture or faith square measure touched and therefore the artists categorize their ideas or views over these kinds of sensitive problems, they ought to not be intercepted just as a result of these square measure serious problems and that they may hurt the sentiment of bound teams or communities. All the works concerning art, literature, etc. don’t generate emotion among the folks. Typically it’s necessary to coach the folks in a manner that is delicate and mild to cut back the strain in our society.

Curated by Athira Albert of Kristu Jayanti College of Law, Bangalore.