Women and Child Development Minister, Maneka Gandhi, is all set to move a long pending amendment to the Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, 1986. The amendment, originally introduced during the UPA II regime, seeks to mend the act on lines of Information Technology Act, 2000.
The amendment bill was introduced in the Rajya Sabha in December 2012, following which it was referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee. The present push towards the amendment is based on the committee’s recommendations in its 2013 report.
The bill will have to be passed by both houses of Parliament before it becomes law.
Here’s all you need to know about the Act and its proposed amendment.
What does the original legislation say?
The Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act (IRWA), 1986, seeks to “prohibit indecent representation of women through advertisements or in publications, writings, paintings, figures or in any other manner and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.”
The Act penalises persons involved in the publication, distribution and packaging of such material. It, however, allows the publication of such material for scientific and learning purposes, and representation of ancient monuments carrying such imagery.
The 2012 amendment
The 2012 amendment sought to widen the scope of the law by including new forms of communication such as the internet, satellite and cable television.
It proposed to expand the terms ‘advertisement’ and ‘distribution’ to include its new digital and electronic form, or SMS, MMS.
Change in definitions
The bill also proposes the addition of new definitions to terms like ‘indecent representation of women’, ‘electronic form’ and ‘publish’.
‘Indecent representation of women’ has been changed to “the depiction of the figure or form of a woman in such a way that it has the effect of being indecent or derogatory or is likely to deprave or affect public morality”.
The definition of ‘electronic form’ has been changed to include the generation and storage of such material in media, magnetic and optical, in accordance with the IT Act, 2000.
The term ‘publish’ will now include printing, distributing or broadcasting through audio-visual media.
The amendment enhances penalties for various offences in line with the IT Act, 2000.
For representing women indecently, the penalty for the first offence was increased to imprisonment of three years and a fine between Rs 50,000 and Rs 1 lakh. Earlier the punishment was two years and a fine of Rs 2,000.
For a subsequent offence, the term of imprisonment shall be between two and seven years and a fine between Rs 1 lakh and 5 lakh.
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