Indian Court Speeds Obscenity Trials

Stephen Yagielowicz
NEW DELHI — An Indian judge has ruled that obscenity charges may be prosecuted without requiring the court to actually review the materials in question.

The case stems from allegations by a local cyber cafe owner that Mayur Vihar resident Sanjay Gupta was playing a pornographic CD, potentially within view of other patrons.

The court ruled that the magistrate was not required to view the CD in order to verify its contents as being "obscene" as a prerequisite for proceeding with the obscenity charges against the defendant.

Gupta challenged the order, claiming that the magistrate was wrong for proceeding with charges against him without knowing what was actually contained on the CD he was charged with viewing at the time of his arrest — allegedly the only incriminating evidence against him.

Gupta also insisted that even if the CD in his possession was considered by the court to be obscene, it wasn't intended or displayed as a public exhibition.

Additional Sessions Judge A.K. Chawla dismissed Gupta's petition, claiming that the court was not required to watch the CD before preferring charges against the accused.

"There are specific allegations of the CD containing obscene material," Chawla said. "When this is so, it is not necessarily required that the trial court should have got the CD run and then come to the prima facie conclusion of the same containing obscene material."

Witness statements and the CD that police said was confiscated at the scene form the basis of evidence against Gupta.

Gupta faces charges under Section 292 of the IPC, which prohibits the possession or public exhibition of obscene material. The charges carry a maximum sentence of two years in jail.

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