PRESS TRUST OF INDIA
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday agreed to examine Centre’s plea that sex workers should not be allowed to operate in the country under the cloak of working “with dignity” as suggested by a panel, since it would be contrary to the statute prohibiting the world’s oldest trade. Appearing for the Centre, Additional Solicitor General PP Malhotra told a special bench of justices Altamas Kabir and Gyan Sudha Misra that any such endorsement by the apex court would go contrary to the vires of the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act which bans prostitution in toto. Malhotra urged the apex court to delete the reference made by the apex court in its order of July 19, last year on the issue relating to “creating conditions conducive for sex workers to work with dignity.”
He also wanted the bench to remove the West Bengal-based NGO Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee from the panel constituted by the apex court as the organisation was championing the cause of sex workers and had also filed a writ petition before the Calcutta High Court in support of prostitution. On July 3, the apex court while appointing a broad based committee had formulated three questions for reference: Prevention of trafficking, rehabilitation of sex workers who wish to leave the sex work; and conditions conducive for sex workers who wish to continue working as sex workers with dignity.
The Centre’s move was however, opposed by senior counsel Jayant Bhushan, acting as an amicus curiae and Anand Grover who submitted that the Act only prohibited brothel activities and punitive action against pimps. In other words the counsel contended that if a sex worker carries out the activities on her own volition, then it was not an illegal Act.