Law: India




Most travellers experience no problems during their stay in India, but if they do, the Consular & Passport Section of the Australian High Commission can provide a range of advice and assistance from issuing emergency passports, assisting in cases of accident, serious illness or death, witnessing and certifying documents, etc. However, they are unable to arrange any of your travel or hotel bookings, get you visas, pay private bills, legal costs or fines, get you out of jail or provide legal advice. The High Commission is however, always ready to assist in the case of an emergency. By law they must charge fees for certain services such as notarial acts, certifying documents, certificates of no impediment and producing introduction letters.

It is recommended that you register with the High Commission if you intend to stay in India for some time. You can register yourself with the High Commission on-line at

Some Australian criminal laws, such as those relating to money laundering, bribery of foreign public officials, terrorism, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, child pornography, child sex tourism, and commercial surrogacy, apply to Australians overseas. Australians who commit these offences while overseas may be prosecuted in Australia.

Australian authorities are committed to combating sexual exploitation of children by Australians overseas. Australians may be prosecuted at home under Australian child sex tourism and child pornography laws. These laws provide severe penalties of up to 25 years imprisonment for Australians who engage in child sexual exploitation while outside of Australia.

Indian Laws

Matters concerning dowry have resulted in some Australian citizens being subject to arrest upon arrival in India. The act of giving or receiving a dowry is prohibited.

Homosexuality is a criminal offence in India. Though prosecutions are rare, a conviction for homosexual behaviour could carry a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. Visit ‘Smartravellers’ LGBTI page for more information.

Penalties in India for some crimes, such as murder, kidnapping for ransom, armed robbery with murder, and treason, may also attract the death penalty. Penalties for drug offences are severe and may also include mandatory sentences and the death penalty.

You are required by law to carry your passport at all times and you will need your passport to check into hotels and check in for flights.

Trespassing and photography of airports, military establishments and dams is illegal with penalties ranging from three to 14 years imprisonment.

Some places of worship and temples do not allow visitors to take pictures or videos; travellers need to check beforehand with the temple’s administrative office.

Legal drinking ages range from 18 to 25 depending on the state, and can vary by alcohol type. Some states permit alcohol use for medicinal purposes only, and others require you to hold a permit to buy, transport or consume alcohol. Some states prohibit the carriage of alcohol brought in from outside the state. Travellers are advised to check state alcohol laws before they visit.

Deliberate maiming or killing of a cow is an offence which can attract a punishment of up to five years imprisonment in some states.

Strict regulations apply for the possession and export of antiquities, with penalties of up to three years imprisonment. For further information contact the High Commission of India in Canberra or the Indian Central Board of Excise and Customs.

Australian High Commission India. 2015. General information for Australian travellers in India . [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 08 October 15].

Smartraveller India. 2015. [ONLINE] Available at, [Accessed on 27 November 2015]

For more travel information visit the Australian Government’s ‘Smartraveller’ website.

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