Sex workers entitled to all rights available to citizens but cannot claim special treatment on violating the law: Delhi High Court

The Delhi High Court refused to grant interim bail to a sex worker who was arrested for allegedly trafficking 13 minor girls who were later rescued from her brothel house (Kotha).
J Asha menon
J Asha menon

The Delhi High Court recently observed that sex-workers are equally entitled to all rights available to citizens and are equally liable to face the consequences for violating the law.[Sarika v. State of NCT of Delhi & Ors].

Single-judge Justice Asha Menon made the observation while refusing to grant interim bail to a sex worker for allegedly trafficking 13 minor girls, who were later rescued from her brothel house (Kotha).

"No doubt, a sex worker is entitled to all rights available to a citizen, but at the same time, if she violates the law, she would be subjected to the same consequences under law and cannot claim any special treatment. The applicant has been accused of offences not merely under the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956, but also under Sections 370 IPC (Trafficking of person) and 372 IPC (Selling minor for purposes of prostitution, etc.) which are extremely serious offences" Justice Menon observed.

The applicant had approached the court seeking interim bail for assisting her mother after she undergoesa double knee transplantation surgery.

Advocate Rajat Katyal, appearing the applicant, submitted that at least a week‟s bail may be granted and the applicant be tested as to whether she would get the mother operated and if not, she would immediately surrender to the court.

He further submitted that except for one prosecutrix, all the others had denied that they had been trafficked and had told the police that they were in the brothel of their own free will.

On the other hand, Additional Public Prosecutor Ritesh Kumar Bahri, opposed the grant of bailbail on the ground that there was a very good chance of the applicant absconding and influencing the prosecutrix.

The prosecutrix has to be examined and the trial would suffer if the bail was granted, he submitted.

Advocate Liyi Marli Noshi, appearing for the complainant also opposed grant of bail and T submitted that the requirement of knee replacement surgery did not entail a life threatening condition and further, even as per the report of the Investigating Officer, there was a person, one Murali, to took after the mother of the applicant after surgery.

She contended that the prosecutrix has already been successfully rehabilitated and if the applicant was released on bail, for howsoever short a time period, the chances were that she would try to influence the prosecutrix, as out of the 13 minors rescued, only one has had the courage to come in the open.

She further added that the applicant could also abscond as had happened in another case in which she was accused.

The bench noted that the conduct of the applicant does not invoke the confidence of the court especially since some medical records seemed to have been tampered with when she first approached the trial court for bail.

The said fact was observed by the trial court in its order denying bail.

The bench further observed that the prosecutrix must be permitted the opportunity to testify before the court as in the status report filed by State, it was mentioned that she had identified the applicant as the one who had forced her into prostitution and did not allow her to leave the Kotha.

It also took note of the suspicious fact that 10 out of the 13 girls who were rescued had subsequently run away from the Critical Care Centre where they had been placed.

"Who helped them escape, though rescued through a raid at the brothel? Suspicions would arise that the same networks may have been involved. There is no gainsaying that the girls were rescued from the brothel where the applicant was also soliciting customers. It becomes a matter of concern, for she too could try to reach out to the prosecutrix to try and influence her and/or prevent her from testifying before the court", the Court observed.

Therefore, the Court rejected the bail application saying,

"In the light of the foregoing discussion and particularly in view of the serious nature of allegations and the fact that the prosecutrix is yet to be examined by the learned Trial Court, no ground is made out for grant of interim bail to the applicant"

[Read Order]

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Sarika @ Radha @ Lovanya T v State of NCT.pdf
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