Two applications were filed with Mumbai Police against Ranveer Singh for “hurting women’s sentiments” through his nude photographs. An FIR has now been filed against him.

An office-bearer of a non-profit based in the eastern Mumbai suburb of Chembur and a female lawyer filed separate complaints at the Chembur police station.

The NGO office-bearer stated that the actor has hurt the sentiments of women in general and insulted their modesty through his photographs, according to NDTV.

Singh posed naked for the cover of Paper magazine last week and shared some photos on Instagram. The actor told the magazine that he can be “naked in front of a thousand people”.

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The NGO representative has requested that a case be filed against the actor under the Information Technology Act and various sections of the Indian Penal Code.

The application, filed by a former journalist, also sought a case against Singh on the charge of attempting to offend women’s modesty.

Laws in India

Sections 292 of the IPC and 67 of the IT Act only state that if the material is “lascivious” or appeals to “prurient interest,” it is ethically wrong.

Obscenity is a crime in India, and it is subject to punishment. Obscene acts, including words, are punishable under Section 294 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). The terms “obscene” and “obscenity” are not defined in the law.

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Obscenity must cause “annoyance to others” to be considered a crime. A person who is convicted under this law faces up to three years in prison. Obscene and sexually explicit materials are prohibited under Sections 67 and 67A of the Information Technology Act, respectively.

According to Section 67, publishing material in electronic form “that is lascivious or appeals to the prurient interest” or tends to “deprave and corrupt persons” is punishable by imprisonment for up to three years and a fine of Rs 5 lakh on first conviction. In the event of a second conviction, the prison term could be increased to five years and the fine could reach Rs 10 lakh.

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Section 67A addresses the penalty for publishing sexually explicit material online. If convicted, the sentence could be up to five years in prison and a fine of up to Rs 10 lakh. In 2014, the Supreme Court of India ruled in Aveek Sarkar vs. State of West Bengal that “the question of obscenity must be seen in the context in which the photograph appears and the message it wishes to convey”.

A previous case suggested that the correct test to determine obscenity would be the American Community Standards Test, the Roth Test, rather than the British Hicklin Test, indicating that in each case involving obscenity, the material should be “‘taken as a whole”.

According to the Roth Test, obscenity must be evaluated in light of current standards and changing societal values. It basically means that what was considered obscene a few decades ago may no longer be considered obscene today.