SC asks Centre, States to rehabilitate prostitutes
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Last Updated: Monday, February 14, 2011, 18:20
New Delhi: Observing that sex workers are also entitled to the protection of Article 21(Liberty), the Supreme Court on Monday directed the Centre and states/Union Territories to prepare suitable rehabilitation schemes for their welfare.

"We direct the central and state governments to prepare schemes for giving technical/vocational training to sex workers and sexually abused women in all cities in India. The schemes should mention in detail who will give the technical/vocational training and in what manner they can be rehabilitated and settled by offering them employment.”

"For instance, if a technical training is for some craft like sewing garments etc, then some arrangements should also be made for providing a market for such garments, otherwise they will remain unsold and unused, and consequently the women will not be able to feed themselves", a bench of justices Markandeya Katju and Gyan Sudha Mishra said in an order.

The apex court said the Centre and state governments through Social Welfare Boards should prepare schemes for rehabilitation for prostitutes.

"We are of the view that the prostitutes also have a right to live with dignity under Article 21 of the Constitution of India since they are also human beings and their problems also need to be addressed.

"As already observed by us, a woman is compelled to indulge in prostitution not for pleasure but because of abject poverty. If such a woman is granted opportunity to avail some technical or vocational training, she would be able to earn her livelihood by such vocational training and skill instead of by selling her body", the bench said.

The apex court passed the order while dismissing the appeal filed by Budhadev Karmaskar challenging the life imprisonment imposed by a sessions court in Kolkata for the murder of a sex worker in 1999. The Calcutta High Court had confirmed the penalty, following which he appealed in the apex court.

Upholding the appeal, the apex court said Karmaskar did not deserve any mercy for the brutal manner in which he murdered the victim who was a sex worker.

"Sex workers are also human beings and no one has a right to assault or murder them. A person becomes a prostitute not because she enjoys it but because of poverty. Society must have sympathy towards the sex workers and must not look down upon them.”

"They are also entitled to a life of dignity in view of Article 21 of the Constitution", the bench said.

The apex court extensively quoted the novels and stories of great Bengali writer Sharat Chand Chattopadhyaya who had depicted in his novels prostitutes like Rajlakshmi in 'Srikant', Chandramukhi in 'Devdas' etc of a very high character.

"Reference may also be made to Amrapali who was a contemporary of Lord Buddha," the bench said.

In the present case, on September 17, 1999 deceased Chayay Rani Pal, alias Buri, living in a red light area at Jogen Dutta Lane in Kolkata Calcutta was brutally assaulted by the convict following a row.

The convict, after kicking and punching her, banged her head to the wall resulting in the death.

"The trial court has rightly convicted the appellant under Section 302 IPC and sentenced him to life imprisonment and the High Court has not committed any error in upholding the conviction and sentence imposed by the trial Court.

"We find no reason to disbelieve the testimony of the eyewitnesses in this case, namely, PW2, PW7 and PW8 which corroborates the medical evidence. The appellant-accused has committed murder in a brutal manner of a helpless woman and deserves no sympathy from this Court", the bench said while dismissing his appeal.


First Published: Monday, February 14, 2011, 18:20

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