Section 294 of the Indian Penal Code

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Section 294 of the Indian Penal Code lays down the punishment for obscene acts or words in public. The other sections of Indian Penal code which deal with obscenity are 292 and 293. The law does not clearly define what would constitute an obscene act, but it would enter the domain of the state only when it takes place in a public place to the annoyance of others. Temple art or nakedness of sadhus are traditionally outside the purview of this section.[1]


Whoever, to the annoyance of others;

(a) Does any obscene act in any public place, or
(b) Sings, recites or utters any obscene song, ballad or words, in or near any public place,

Shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three months, or with fine, or with both.[2]

Case law[edit]

  • Dismissing a complaint that Richard Gere had acted obscenely by kissing Shilpa Shetty in public,[3] the Supreme Court of India had observed that in this issue 'no case was made out'.
  • Even after this verdict, complaints have been filed in courts claiming that kissing in public constitutes an offense under this section.[4] Kiss of Love Protesters were threatened with lawsuits under this section.[5]
  • The Kerala High Court had observed that the performance of cabaret dance devoid of nudity and obscenity, judged according to the standards indicated was permissible, and was not in any way liable to be banned or prevented.[6]
  • Quashing a case against 13 men who were arrested for allegedly indulging in obscene acts with women in a flat, the Bombay High Court has said any such action done in a private place is not a criminal offence under the Indian Penal Code.[7]


  1. ^ Rajadhyaksha, Ashish (18 October 2014). "Yours Censoriously: Censorship in Cinema". Economic & Political Weekly. XLIX (42). Retrieved 6 November 2014.
  2. ^ "Section 294- Obscene acts and songs". Indian Law Cases. Supreme Court of India. Retrieved 6 November 2014.
  3. ^ "Indian Court Issues Arrest Warrant for Richard Gere". Archived from the original on 28 April 2007. Retrieved 26 April 2007.
  4. ^ "Plea to Ensure Peaceful Conduct of 'Protest'". The New Indian Express. Express News Service. 31 October 2014. Retrieved 6 November 2014.
  5. ^ "Hyderabad: 'Kiss of Love' supporters face case for obscenity". IBN Live. Archived from the original on 8 November 2014. Retrieved 6 November 2014.
  6. ^ Rana, Inder S. (1990). Law of Obscenity in India, USA & UK. Mittal Publications. p. 168. ISBN 9788170991694.
  7. ^ "Obscene acts in private place not an offence under IPC: Bombay HC". The Indian Express. 20 March 2016. Retrieved 20 March 2016.