A sessions court on Friday ordered the immediate release of two adult victims of sex trafficking whom a Mazgaon magistrate has directed to be lodged in a correctional home for a year as no relative had come before it to claim their custody.
The two had approached the sessions court against the order. They had been taken in custody by the DB Marg police station and the magistrate had ordered their lodging at a correctional home in West Bengal for a year for their care, protection, shelter and vocational training.
The two had claimed that they were adults and that the magistrate’s order was against the spirit of the constitution. Additional Sessions Judge Ajay C. Daga said in his order that a victim who is a major has the fundamental right to move from one place to another and to reside at a place of her choice. The court relied on a Bombay High Court ruling and said it was proper to modify the disputed order.
It directed that they be set a liberty on ascertaining their wishes on whether they want to continue their stay in the institution or be freed from it. If they choose to be released, the court directed that they give an undertaking that they will take care of themselves and not indulge in such activities in future.
The Mazgaon magistrate had made a personal inquiry with all the 11 victims of sex trafficking produced before her, including the duo. For others for whom a family member had claimed custody, the custody was granted. For one of the two appellants the magistrate had noted that she is a major, but her husband had divorced her and no one had come to claim her custody. For another, that her husband is an auto driver and her mother resides in Kolkata, but that she wanted to live with her brother who resides in Mumbai. It noted however that no one had come to claim her custody and hence that they both stay at the correctional home in West Bengal.