India Court: Is Condom Packaging Obscene?

Apr 28, 2016 2:05 PM PST

MUMBAI — India’s highest court has ordered the country’s solicitor general to explore whether images of scantily clad women and men on packaging and advertisements for condoms, contraceptives and other sexual wellness products breach obscenity laws.

The Supreme Court this week asked the solicitor general to file a report within six weeks as well as take a “stand” on pictures printed on the products, according to the International Business Times.

“You tell us whether action can be taken on these ads or not. Take a look at the advertisements available on record and also others and then tell us what is your stand,” the court told the government’s lawyer, Maninder Singh.

The court also asked Singh: “Do you have any plan to regulate such advertisements? Is there a way you can check what is going to be printed on these packets or can you take action only after these packets with pictures are available in the market? You also have to tell us if such advertisements may constitute a penal offense.”

Conservatives in this country often register complaints with police under the obscenity law and police are obliged to register a case when complaints are made. Penalties carry a maximum punishment of two years in prison and five years for repeat offenders.  

Bollywood actress and former porn star Sunny Leone was hit with an obscenity charge last year for her online movies and photographs.

India censors blocked the release of the erotic film “Fifty Shades of Grey” in theaters last year, but they were forced to reverse a controversial order banning hundreds of porn websites after being accused of heavy-handed censorship.

The case at hand over packaging and advertising came after condom manufacturers appealed an earlier high court order banning lurid pictures from their packets on the grounds that they were obscene and an affront to Indian culture.

The high court was responding to a petition filed against the manufacturers.

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