We have been debating how Times of India through its front page article on February 11, in its print editions took up promoting and advertising pornography on Internet through the savitabhabhi.com (since banned by Government of India) and its clone which is now in operation. (Refer our earlier articles : http://www.bloggernews.net/123795, http://www.bloggernews.net/123818 , http://www.bloggernews.net/123809).

We have raised the issue of jounalistic ethics not only because the promotion of savitabhabhi.com is promotion of pornography, but also because it was in defiance of the current Government ban on Savitabhabhi.com. Additionally, the article contained false and misleading statements about ITA 2008, ( Information Technology Act 2000 as amended by the Information Technology Amendment Act 2008 effective from October 27, 2009), arguing that the Government of India did not have the powers to block websites such as savitabhabhi.com.

The article tried to argue that the word “Public Order” should only mean “riot” kind of situations and violation of an existing law of the land cannot be construed as disturbing “Public Order”.

The article has been successful in creating a perception that ITA 2008 does not have the powers to block Internet pornography in India and has created a confusion even in the law enforcement circles by sheer weight of the circulation of TOI and the misplaced credibility on publication and the vanishing concept called “Journalistic Ethics”.  

In its continued bid to challenge the authorities, TOI group carried sexually explicit pictures in its website such as the following pages/articles:

1. Savita Bhabhi can speak 10 languages : http://infotech.indiatimes.com/quickiearticleshow/556022.cms

3.It’s Savita Bhabhi time again?: http://infotech.indiatimes.com/quickiearticleshow/5560246.cms

These pages contain pictures and text from the banned site which are lascivious, appeals to the prurient interests and tends to deprave and corrupt the minds of persons who are likely to see it. (The pages are available even for minors) which are sufficient to invoke Section 67 and 67A of ITA 2008.  Further, a few of the pictures depict minors engaged in sexually explicit acts which is good enough to invoke section 67B of ITA 2008.

Further the group has been indulging in publishing, transmitting and promoting obscenity in electronic form repeatedly and therefore qualify for bing accused of a repeated offence under all the three sections.

TOI has already been indicted by Press Council http://presscouncil.nic.in/Decisions/decision05/38.htm once on the grounds of peddling obscenity in violation of journalistic ethics and therefore the current incident must qualify as a repeated offence.

Now the offences committed are “Cognizable Offences” and this forum has brought it to the notice of the public and therefore the notice of the law enforcement. Additionally, Naavi.org has already sent a specific complaint to CERT IN and the Secretary of MCIT with copies of the above web pages. Hence the law enforcement cannot deny knowledge of the offence. They are therefore bound to initiate action in the spirit in which the law expects them to do. I hope they would act accordingly.

Further it can be noted that the articles on savitabhabhi.com appearing in the above webpages carry advertisements of many entities such as Tech Mabindra, Monsterindia.com, kohler.co.in, itbusinessedge.com, SAS.com, y-jesus.com , edencourt.in, logmein.com, ramcoondemand.com, etc. Probably the advertisements are served from an ad server and all advertisers in TOI group may find their ads on these pages and will be financing the promotion of the banned savitabhabhi.com. They shall be guilty of the same offences as TOI is accused of under the vicarious liability provisions for having financed an ellegal activity. It is necessary for such companies to review their ad contract and put a bar on their advertisements being served in such illegal content pages.

I hope that advertising agencies who are handling the advertisement contracts of these companies realize that they too will be responsible for the offence and will be indemnifying their client companies for any liabilities that may arise.

I suggest that some public spirited advocates should explore possibilities of seeking legal remedy through PILs perhaps in the Supreme Court.

Naavi

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