Sex workers should not be apprehended or penalised when any brothel house gets raided by police administration, the Madras High Court has ruled.
Justice N Satish Kumar noted a recent judgement of the Supreme Court, which held that when any brothel house gets raided, sex workers should not be arrested or penalised or harassed or victimised, and it is only the operating of the brothel which is illegal. Citing the SC verdict, he quashed a First Information Report (FIR) filed against a customer of the brothel house.
The judge said, "In the case on hand, merely because the petitioner was in the place, which is alleged by the respondents (police) to be a brothel being run by some person, the petitioner cannot be fastened with any penal consequence, and further, the act of the petitioner also cannot be said to be an act of pressurising the sex workers to commit acts, which they were not interested," quoted NDTV.
What Was The Case?
Justice Kumar was hearing a criminal original petition from one Udaykumar, who was apprehended from a brothel house in Chintadripet locality in Chennai. The allegation against him was that when the police raided the massage centre, the petitioner was also there, along with the sex workers, and he was arrested and arrayed as Accused No 5.
The petitioner's counsel argued that even if all the allegations were taken together, there would be no offence. Being indulged in sex work was not illegal, and only operating a brothel was unlawful. The sex workers were in the profession at their own discretion and not because of any inducement, force or coercion. Therefore, such acts were not liable for prosecution under section 370 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
The Additional Public Prosecutor submitted that a brothel was run by the first accused under the pretext of a massage centre.
What Did The Judge Say?
Allowing the petition, the judge remarked that, according to the FIR, the petitioner was not present while sex workers were there in the said massage centre, and he was not named as an accused. However, in the alteration report, the petitioner is indicated as A-5. Even if the entire report was taken at face value, it did not show any offence committed by the petitioner other than his alleged presence at the said location.
Furthermore, there was no evidence to show that he was engaged in any sexual conduct at the said place, nor that the individuals who had been rescued from the massage centre had many allegations against any of the persons, much less the petitioner, as reported by The Indian Express.
According to the apex court ruling, any sex worker who is an adult and involved in sexual acts with his or he own consent shall not be persecuted by the police administration.
As per the facts, as evidenced by the FIR and the alteration report, there was no hint of compulsion on the part of the sex workers to commit the act, more so from the petitioner. Given that the petitioner was not accused of coercing the sex worker to commit the sexual act, the court noted that continuing the FIR against the petitioner was nothing but a futile exercise and would serve no purpose; the judge added and dismissed the case against the petitioner.
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