The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Scanner on cyber smut

New Delhi, Feb. 17: The Centre today petitioned the Supreme Court to transfer two cases advocating protection of children from cyber sex and limiting their access to pornography on the Internet before two different high courts to itself.

A division bench of Justices R.C. Lahoti and Arun Kumar issued notices to transfer the cases pending before the Kerala and Madras High Courts to avoid conflicting verdicts. The apex court will tie up the cases to take them up for hearing together.

The Centre has sought transfer of similar matters before the two high courts and in others, if any, for a ruling to protect children from cyber pornography and stop possible misuse of the Internet in allowing them access to adult sites.

India is the first country to enact cyber laws and advanced countries like the US and the UK, which yet do not have similar laws, have recently stated that they would read the Indian law to explore the possibility of adopting it in their legal systems.

However, cyber crimes are still tried under the Criminal Procedure Code and the Indian Penal Code. The codes bring into play the archaic Indian Evidence Act, leading prosecuting agencies to express inability to increase the conviction rate in cyber crimes.

In today’s proceedings, attorney-general Soli Sorabjee told the court that various steps were being taken by the government to prevent misuse of Internet in allowing minors access to adult sites.

The petitions before the high courts blamed the government for not effectively regulating “uncontrolled access” made available to minors by various websites and cyber cafes across the country allowing them to surf pornographic sites.

But Sorabjee argued that the government’s licensing condition to Internet Service Providers mandated that each of them “shall ensure that objectionable, obscene, unauthorised or any such other content, message or a communication infringing copyright, intellectual copyright and international and domestic cyber laws in any form or inconsistent with the laws of India are not carried in its network and the ISPs should take necessary measures to protect the same”.

Moreover, with cyber cafes being increasingly used by terrorists, a home ministry order has made it clear that all cyber cafes and Internet cable providers register themselves and also register those who log in from their respective outlets.

The petition will come up in the “normal course” for further hearing, which is normally eight weeks from the date of notice.

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