Report No. 156
12.44. The existing section 292 in chapter XIV dealing with offences affecting the public health, safety, convenience, decency and morals, punishes the obscene books etc. This section has been also amended in the year 1969. As to the nature of the test of obscenity, the assessment of the same depends upon so many factors and there have been judgments rendered on it. There have always been a practical problem in deciding what is "lascivious" and what appeals to the "prurient" interest, and what does or does not tend to deprave or corrupt.
The Law Commission in its 42nd Report observed that "more important than this attempted definition is the new exception, which allows a defence on the ground that the publication is in the interest of art or science or literature or learning". This will actually turn on "expert evidence", which would be permissible under section 45 of the Evidence Act. The Law Commission however recommended that it would be safer if in the section itself a provision is specifically made for admission of such expert evidence.
We are also of the view that such expert evidence in respect of the facts and circumstances in a case on the question whether they are of lascivious nature etc. should be covered by the section on the lines recommended by the Law Commission in the new sub-section sought to be inserted in section 292 under clause 122 of the Bill which would be an appropriate addition.