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GEORGES v. VELUPILLAI.
. P. G., Jaffna, 34,356.
Obscene books—Printing arid possessing such books—Penal Code, ss. 285, 286'—Test of obscenity. .
In a prosecution under sections 285 and 286 of the Penal .Code, forprinting and possessing obscene books,—
Held, following Cockbum, C.J., in Queen v. Hicklin, L. R. 3, Q. B. 371,that the test as to a book being obscene or not is whether the tendencyof tiie matter charged as obscenity is to depAve and corrupt thosewhose minds are open, to such immoral influences, and into whosehands a publication of this sort may fall.
HE accused was convicted on two counts of the charges of(1) printing, and (2) possessing for the purpose of sale, an
obscene pamphlet in the Tamil language styled “ Secret Science.”The nature of this work is sufficiently indicated in the judgment ofWendt, J.
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1904. On appeal preferred by the accused, the case came on forOctober 19. argument before Wendt, J., on 9th February, 1904.
Domhorst, K.C. (with him Wadsworth), for appellant.
Rdmandthan, S.-O., for respondent.
The following cases were' cited in the course of the argument :—Queen v. Hichlin, 3 Q. B. L. R. 360; and Empress of India v.Henderson, 3 All. 837.
Cut. adv. vult.
19th October, 1904. Wendt, J.—'
The appellant, who is the proprietor and publisher at Jaffnaof a newspaper in the Tamil language called Native PublicOpinion, has been convicted on the first count of the charge ofhaving printed for sale an obscene pamphlet in the Tamil languagestyled “ Secret Science,” in breach of section 285 of the PenalCode; and on the second count of having in his possession thesaid pamphlet for the purpose of sale, in breach of section 286.The sentences on the two counts are, respectively, a fine of Es. 100or three months’ rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Es. 50 ortwo months’ rigorous imprisonment. The Magistrate has orderedthe destruction of all copies of the pamphlet produced in Courtor to be found in the possession of accused.
The only question argued in appeal was whether the pamphletwas .obscene, and to the consideration of that question I havedevoted a great deal of anxious care. The book professes to be acompilation from a number of other works, and in the Court belowseveral books published in England, in America, and in Indiawere produced with the object of showing that the appellant’spamphlet contained nothing more objectionable than appeared inthose books, which, it was said, had never been made the subjectof prosecution. But the fact that the publishers of these otherworks were not proceeded against does not prove that such workswere not obscene. One knows the very real danger that exists,in England at all events, of giving to a pernicious book, by makingit the subject of such a charge, a very much wider advertisementthan it would otherwise receive, and so rendering the evil morewidespread by the very endeavour to suppress it. It mightperhaps have assisted the appellant if he had produced some,publication similar to the one in question, which had been judi-cially declared, to be unobjectionable on the score of obscenity;but he has not. Without that assistance we have to determinewhether this book was obnoxious to sections 285 and 286 of thePenal Code.
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Before proceeding further I may say that the appellant did in 1804.fact sell the pamphlet to the public in general, and that the price October 19.was only 26 cents. He also advertised it for sale in his newspaper. Wbkot, J.The preface describes it as intended to be a “ guide to youths andthose who have embraced the married state.”
What then is an “ obscene ” book ?“ I think, ” said Cockbum,
O.J., in Queen v. Hichlin, L. B. 3, Q. B. 371, “ the test ofobscenity is this, whether the tendency of the matter charged asobscenity is to deprave and. corrupt those whose minds are open tosuch immoral influences, and into whose hands a publication ofthis sort may fall.” The Police Magistrate, quoting these words,is decidedly of opinion that the book in question has that tendency,and he is further of opinion, in the words of the same learnedJudge, that it ” would suggest to the minds of the young of eithersex, or even to persons of more advanced years, thoughts of amost impure and libidinous character.” Whether the publicationin question is or is not obscene, is a question of fact upon whichdue weight must be given to the Magistrate’s opinion.
The character and scope of the book may- be judged from the fol-lowing titles of the fifteen heads into which its subject is divided,viz.,' (1) The Mystery of Generation, (2) The Male Organs, (8) TheFemale Organs, (4) Menstruation, (5) Impregnation, (6) Develop-ment of Foetus, (7) The Enjoyment of Sexual Intercourse, (8) TheTimes of Sexual Intercourse, (9) Limits to Sexual Intercourse, (10)Masterbation, (11) Lustful Thoughts, (12) ^mission, (18) Capacityfor Sexual Intercourse, (14) Augmentation of Semen, (15) VenerealDiseases. I have read carefully through the work, and havearrived at the decided conclusion that as a book Sold to the publicat large, at a small price, its contents are clearly calculated todeprave and corrupt those whose minds are open to such immoralinfluences. It is impossible to deny that the writer enters into awealth of detail which cannot but prove pernicious, even grantingthe propriety of disseminating knowledge on the subject generally.
The ostensible object of preventing abuse of the sexual organscould quite as well have been served .without the prurient par-ticulars to be found in various parts of the book. I may refer, asexamples, to the following pages of the translation: p. 21, pp. 25—
29, p. 31, pp. 38-42, p. 47, p. 59.’
For the reasons I have given I think the Magistrate was rightand that the conviction should be affirmed.
GEORGES v. VELUPILLAI