SC asks Centre, States to rehabilitate prostitutes

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

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

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

"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.


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