A Delhi court has ordered that an FIR be registered against online shopping portals Amazon India, eBay and Shopclues and their managing directors for allegedly selling an ashtray shaped like a nude woman, saying it was "outrageous" and "indecent" and could have a serious psychological impact on the young.
Metropolitan Magistrate Babru Bhan gave the direction while also observing that by allowing the sale of such a product, the portals were conveying to society that women should be treated in the manner depicted in the object.
A complaint was lodged against the portals by advocate Gaurav Gulati, who alleged that according to media reports published on the Net on June 6, 2017, the sites were "selling a nude woman figurine ash-tray which was indecent".
"The pictures annexed with the complaint would show that the ashtrays which were sold are shaped as a nude woman. (What) Effrontery, the figurine shows the woman lying with her legs spread, indicating her vagina to be the spot where the smoker is supposed to grind the cigarette after smoking. By such depiction of a woman, what message is being sent to society," the court asked.
The court said it appeared that the sellers and the portals wanted to convey to society that "women should be treated in the manner depicted in the figurine".
"In my understanding, this is the idea being spread through the disputed figurine which is outrageous for every woman and indecent for every viewer. (The) act of selling or even publishing such material cannot be permitted in any civilised society," the magistrate said.
The court observed the object was not "artistic" in any way.
"In my considered opinion, publication of such material can leave a serious psychological impact, especially on young viewers. It is not artistic from any point of view."
The court, in its order, called for a detailed investigation into the matter to ascertain the identity of the sellers and role of the portals.
"A detailed investigation is to be carried out to ascertain the identity of the sellers, the role of the portals and to collect digital evidence. Hence, SHO, police station Subzi Mandi is hereby directed to register an FIR under relevant provisions of the IPC and under the Indecent Representation of Woman (Prohibition) Act, 1986, and file a report within seven days," it said.
The court observed that if such indecent acts were ignored, they would lead to encouraging wrongdoers.
"Pervert(ed) ideas are always gathered and conceived from the surroundings. The legislative intent behind the statutory provisions which are stipulated under Sections 292 (sale of obscene material), 293 (sale of obscene material to young person) of the IPC and Indecent Representation of Woman (Prohibition) Act is to protect society from such material which has a tendency to corrupt its psychology.
"If such incidents and act are ignored, it will lead to encouragement to wrongdoers and the possibilities of repetition shall be automatically raised." the magistrate said.
"The ashtray ... drew severe criticism on social media... (and) was sold at a price of Rs 4,441," the complaint had alleged.
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