Setting aside lower courts’ orders that detained three prostitute women arrested, Bombay High Court on Thursday gave a sensational verdict. Observing that prostitution is not a criminal offence under the law, Justice Prithviraj Chavan of state High Court ruled that an adult woman has the right to choose her vocation and cannot be detained without her consent.
Into details, the court was hearing a plea by three women-the youngest aged 20 who were detained and later moved to a shelter home after they were arrested under the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956 during a raid while the middleman was arrested and booked under the ITP Act.
“What is punishable under the Act is sexual exploitation or abuse of person for commercial purposes and to earn the bread, except where a person is carrying on prostitution in a public place or is found soliciting or seducing another person,” stated the court.
The judge further said that the law only penalizes sexual exploitation or abuse of a person for “commercial purpose” and to earn the bread thereby, except where a person is carrying on prostitution in a public place. The Bombay HC’s observation is significant as prostitution is still largely perceived as illegal in India.