HomeAveek Sarkar and Anr v. State of West Bengal and Anr (2014) 4 SCC 257


A picture of Boris Becker and his wife posing nude was published by the magazine STERN. The picture was taken by her father and the message behind the picture was the idea of love beyond colour and the opposition to apartheid. The picture was further published in India by Sports World and Anandabazar Patrika. A lawyer filed a complaint against these papers under section 292 IPC.


Whether nudity by itself is sufficient for an object to be considered as obscene?


Section 292 IPC.


The Court acknowledged that they were judging the case in 2014 and the idea of obscenity has changed over time. The Court observes to determine obscenity, “regard must be had to the contemporary mores and national standards and not the standard of a group of susceptible or sensitive persons.” The Court thus holds the view that an object will not be obscene if one person or perhaps even a group of persons feel that it has the tendency to corrupt morals. It will only be obscene if the community as a whole regards the object as obscene, or capable of corrupting morals. The Court thus rejected the Hicklin test as the test of obscenity as it regarded elements of the object in isolated terms and also took a more subjective view of obscenity. The Court opines that obscenity must be looked at objectively applying community standards. The Court also observed that in the present case, the breasts of Barbara Fultus were fully covered by the hands of her husband and also added that the picture was taken by her father. The Court also looks at the message in the picture which was ending racial discrimination.


Considering the above factors, the Court held that the picture cannot be held to deprave minds and thus, cannot be considered as obscene under section 292 IPC.

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