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Innocent Admission

Kerala activist invokes Hindu deities to seek anticipatory bail from Supreme Court

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New Delhi, July 28, 2020-

Kerala activist Rehana Fathima, who has moved the Supreme Court challenging the Kerala High Court order rejecting her bail plea in a case under the POCSO Act and IT Act in connection with a controversial video, cited the depiction of goddesses in the state, while asking the court: “Whether female nudity (even when not visible) per se constitutes obscenity?”

“Goddesses in Kerala are frequently depicted in idols and murals with bare breasts. When one prays at the temple, the feeling is not of sexual arousal but one of divinity,” she said in her plea.

The petitioner said she is a mother of a 14-year-old boy and an 8-year-old girl and had uploaded a video titled “Body art and politics” on YouTube showing her children painting on her semi-nude body.

“It may be noted that the video is available on YouTube… and is still not taken down because it shows no nudity,” said the plea, adding that the prosecution, however, alleges that she has committed offences punishable under Sections 13, 14, and 15 of the POCSO Act, and Section 67B of the IT Act as well as Section 17 of the Juvenile Justice Act.

Fathima argued that the video cannot be watched in isolation, without understanding the message which is being conveyed through the video as well as the write up along with the video. “There is no indecency or obscenity involved in the video… there is no indecent or obscene representation of the children,” she added.

The Kerala High Court denied bail to Fathima, and the activist has now moved the apex court seeking relief. She has also put another query before the apex court, asking “Whether children painting on their mother’s body can be concluded to be ‘sexual gratification’ and ‘child abuse’ under the stringent laws?”

Fathima approached the High Court apprehending arrest after a case was lodged against her under the POCSO Act and the IT Act for child abuse and iconography. Justice P.V. Kunhikrishnan, noting Ththat the petitioner feels that she should teach sex education to her children, said: “I am not in a position to agree with the petitioner that she should teach sex education to her children in this manner.”

Citing errors in the High Court order, Fathima’s plea said: “This is what has happened in the instant case when the mob morality is chasing the petitioner’s right to liberty and unfortunately the High Court fell into the same trap. In the instant case, it is the mother who had been painted on her semi-nude body by the children.”

The plea contended: “One cannot assume obscenity or indecency in the same. Also the petitioner’s present act to pursue her body politics is not an isolated incident. She has been pursuing this throughout her life even including participating in Pulikali at Thrissur.”  (Agency)

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