New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday said that sex workers even though not caught or convicted for immoral trafficking could not take the shelter of law to resist their eviction from a brothel.
“If notice had to be given (to every occupant of brothel) then the implementation of the provision of the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act would be impossible”, said the apex court vacation bench comprising Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghose and Justice Amitava Roy as it rejected the plea that sex workers be served notice before being evicted from the brothel.
The bench said: “Such an interpretation (of Section 18 of the Act) would be absurd, illogical, unrealistic, impractical and would defeat the purpose of law.”
The court’s observation came as counsel Kamini Jaiswal appearing for the petitioners — all residing in a brothel in Delhi — read Section 18 which says that a magistrate will issue a notice as to why a place allegedly used as a brothel or for immoral trafficking should not be attached or vacated.
“Do you think that all the occupants of the place that has been directed to be evicted by the subordinate court as well as the High Court should be given a separate notice,” the court asked Jaiswal as it junked the plea by the occupants.
As Jaiswal read to the court the provisions of the Act, the bench observed: “Do you suggest that the persons who were convicted under the Act can get any relief from this court?”
The petitioners had approached the Supreme Court contesting the May 17, 2016 Delhi High Court order which had upheld the sessions court’s order convicting two alleged sex workers and directing the eviction of people residing at two places used as a brothel.
As the vacation bench rejected all the pleas against the eviction of 38 people from these two places, Jaiswal referred to the judgements by which the apex court had directed the formulation of schemes for the rehabilitation of sex workers.
Jaiswal told the bench that despite the direction of the Supreme Court, Delhi government had not taken any step for their rehabilitation and today they are being thrown out.
Delhi Commission for Women Chairperson Swati Maliwal was present in the court during the hearing.
In a statement, DCW described the apex court’s rejection of the petitions as a “positive development”.
“This is an extremely positive development as despite many women and minor girls regularly being rescued from the brothels at GB Road and the Immoral Trafficking Prevention Act having provisions for closure of brothels involved in trafficking, not even a single brothel has been closed till date,” said the DCW statement.
“It is the view of the Commission that closure of those brothels where women and/or minor girls are trafficked and forced into prostitution is crucial for discouraging trafficking in the area and sending a message to the brothels that trafficking and forcing innocent victims into sex racket will not be allowed,” DCW stated.
DCW said one of the two brothels that have been directed to be closed was raided twice in 2015 and four adults and one minor girl were rescued.
“Both cases are presently pending trial. This itself shows that these brothels are continuously engaged in trafficking,” the statement said.