Kochi: The Kerala high court has ruled that mere possession of sexually explicit photos will not amount to a crime under the Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act. Only when the publication or distribution of such photos takes place, it would be punishable under the law, it clarified.

“If an adult person has a photograph of himself or herself in his or her possession which is sexually explicit in nature, the provisions of the Act 60 of 1986 will not apply, unless the prosecution has a case that those photographs were distributed or published for advertisement or for any other incidental purpose,” observed the Kerela high court judge Raja Vijayaraghavan in his order while disposing of a petition filed by a couple seeking to quash the proceedings against them pending in the Kollam magistrate court.

In 2008 the Kollam East Police, during a search operation at the city bus stand, found two cameras in possession of a man and a woman. The cameras contained explicit pictures and videos of the woman.

The police arrested the couple and initiated prosecution agains them in a judicial magistrate court in Kollam.

“In the case on hand, there is no case for the prosecution that the petitioners has advertised or circulated their private pictures found in the cameras which were in their possession,” the high court said.

Citing the verdict of State of Haryana vs Bhajan Lal, the court observed, “When the factual scenario is examined in the background of the legal principles as laid down by the apex court in the state of Haryana vs Bhajan Lal, the inevitable conclusion is that the criminal proceedings against the petitioners are nothing, but an abuse of the process of law”.