New Delhi: Expressing concern over the trafficking of girls for prostitution, the Supreme Court on Thursday said the practice of arresting them on the charge of indulging in flesh trade should stop as instead of being accused many of them are the victims of the social malady.
A three-judge bench headed by Justice Anil R Dave also asked the Centre to file an affidavit giving details about the actions taken by it and all the state governments in pursuance of directions issued by the apex court in 1990 on curbing the menace of child trafficking and prostitution.
"We would like to know what actions have been taken in pursuance of directions issued in the judgement (Vishal Jeet vs Union Of India And another) in 1990.
"The Union of India shall file an affidavit giving complete details with regard to actions taken. We direct all the state governments to co-operate with the Union of India so that an appropriate affidavit can be filed," a bench, also comprising justices Madan B Lokur and Kurian Joseph, said.
During the hearing, senior advocate Dushyant Dave, appearing for PIL petitioner Prajwala, said such girls are being arrested and kept in police lock-ups which usually lack facilities like separate toilets for women.
The way they are treated by police during and after the raid or rescue operations is "torturous" and they should not be arrested as many of them are victims, the bench said.
Certain provisions of the Immoral Traffic Prevention Act need to be amended, Dave said and adding that the court should hear and pass directions on the PIL filed in 2004.
The bench then said that instead of focusing on the rescue and post-rescue actions, measures should be placed to prevent trafficking.
"Please go one step back. We should have anti-trafficking measures in place," the court said and asked the Centre to apprise it of steps taken to curb the menace as directed by the apex court.
The court had in 1990 asked the all states to form "Advisory Committees" for making suggestions for eradication of prostitution.
The apex court had asked the state governments and the union territories to direct "their concerned law-enforcing authorities to take appropriate and speedy action under the existing laws in eradicating child prostitution without giving room for any complaint of remissness or culpable indifference.
"They should also set up separate Advisory Committees for making suggestions for eradication of prostitution, implementation of the social welfare programmes for the care, protection, treatment, development and rehabilitation of the victims and for amendments of the existing law or for enactment of any new law for prevention of sexual exploitation of the children.
"These governments should also devise a machinery for ensuring proper implementation of suggestions of their respective committees."
The PIL seeks implementation of "Victim Protection Protocol" in the country for the trafficked girls and children.
The plea has raised the problems faced by sexually-exploited women and children.
It gave proposals for forming 'Victim-Protection Protocol' for the pre-rescue, rescue and post-rescue stages of rehabilitation of commercially and sexually-exploited women and children.