Mumbai News: 'Customer Cannot Be Charged For Trafficking Charges', Says High Court

Mumbai News: 'Customer Cannot Be Charged For Trafficking Charges', Says High Court

The high court has granted bail to a man who was arrested from a brothel in 2021 and was booked under various sections of the IPC

Urvi MahajaniUpdated: Tuesday, April 09, 2024, 02:15 AM IST
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Bombay High Court | File pic

A person who is found in an alleged brothel as a customer, who visited the place to have sex with a commercial sex worker in lieu of money, would not fall within a purview of the Section 370 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) which deals with trafficking and pushing minors into flesh trade. 

The high court has granted bail to a man who was arrested from a brothel in 2021 and was booked under various sections of the IPC, Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) and Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act. 

Unaware Customer Argues Innocence In Prostitution Case

The police raided a place on a tip off that minors were driven to prostitution. Along with the applicant, four other persons were also arrested who were running the brothel and were charged for forcing minors into flesh trade. The applicant was arrested as a customer who was found in the company of the victim girl. 

His advocate Prabhanjay Dave argued that his client was unaware that the girl was a minor and had visited the place on the assurance by a co-accused that he could engage a commercial sex worker for a price. 

Dave relied on a judgement of a Calcutta high court which categorically held that “the person who is found in alleged brothel as a customer, who visited the place to have sex with a sex worker in lieu of money and in the absence of any evidence that he is living on the earning of sex worker and/or that he is habitual visitor to such place cannot face charge under Section 370 of IPC”.

Exclusion Of Customers From Trafficking Charges

Besides, section 370 specifically contemplates that the term trafficking means exploitation by recruits, transports, harbours, transfers or receives a person by using the mechanism set out therein and that engaging into such activity would amount to trafficking. 

“It is categorically held that a customer would not fall within a purview of the said section,” said Justice Bharati Dangre on April 4. 

High Court Grants Bail To Accused In Trafficking Case

Also, the co-accused, who are accused of actual trafficking have been granted bail by the sessions court. 

“There is no reason why this analogy shall not be applied to the applicant and particularly when he is accused of being a customer and at the end of the trial, it will have to be determined whether he shall be charged of Section 370 of IPC and the relevant provisions of the POCSO Act,” observed Justice Bharati Dangre on April 4. Also, he has been incarcerated for more than 3 years. 

The HC has directed his release on bail on furnishing a personal bond of Rs25,000.  

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