Mumbai: Observing that indulging in sex work is not an offence, unless done in public, a sessions court ordered the release of a 34-year-old commercial sex worker from a government shelter home in Deonar where she had been detained as per a magistrate’s order.
In March, a Mazgaon magistrate had passed the order, stating that the woman be detained in the shelter for a year for her care, protection and rehabilitation. The woman had approached the sessions court against the order. Her advocate had pointed out that the woman has the right to freedom under Article 19 of the Constitution. Highlighting the apex court's observations on the rights of sex workers, the advocate had further argued that voluntary sex work is not illegal but running a brothel is.
Woman not forced into flesh trade
Noting that the applicant was not forced into flesh trade, the court said that the magistrate's order goes against the woman's will. It further said that the magistrate ought to have taken the opinion of a panel of social workers or respected persons to assist him, but the magistrate just made a personal inquiry with the woman herself before passing the order.
Additional Sessions Judge CV Patil considered the woman's submission that she has two children and needs to take care of them. “Apart from that, the victim is major and hence able to take her own decisions,” the court said. It is her fundamental right under Article 19 to reside and settle in any part of India and move freely in the country, it added.
The woman was rescued earlier, too, and later released after she gave a written submission to the court that she would refrain from flesh trade. Judge Patil said that the magistrate had passed the detention order only on the ground of previous antecedent, but didn't consider her age or her right under Article 19. The court pointed out there is no allegation that the woman indulges in sex work in public places and said that detaining her on the ground of previous antecedent is not proper.
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