SC orders Centre, States on survey of sex workers
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Last Updated: Tuesday, July 19, 2011, 21:42
New Delhi: Holding that "right to live with dignity" is a Constitutional right, the Supreme Court on Tuesday directed the Centre, States and UTs to carry out a comprehensive survey to determine the number of sex workers in the country who are willing for rehabilitation.

A bench of justices Markandeya Katju and Gyan Sudha Mishra in an order also directed the Centre and States to file affidavits within two weeks on suggestions and recommendations for improving the lot of sex workers.

It constituted a panel comprising senior advocates and NGOs to assist the court in monitoring the rehabilitation work of the sex workers.

"We may reiterate that this exercise has been done by us because the word "life" in Article 21 of the Constitution of India has been interpreted in several decisions of this Court to mean a right to 'life with dignity'

"It is only if a sex worker is able to earn a livelihood through technical skills rather than by selling her body that she can live with dignity, and that is why we have requested all the States and the Union of India to submit schemes for giving technical training to these sex workers," the bench said.

The apex court passed the direction while dealing with a petition relating to plight of sex workers in which the bench had appointed senior counsel Jayant Bhushan as an amicus curiae.

"We further add that the affidavits which will be filed on behalf of several States and on behalf of the Union of India should focus on the implementation of the suggestions as we are acutely conscious that affidavits merely indicating and suggesting that States and the Union of India are doing enough would not be sufficient for the cause for which this matter has been taken up," the bench said.

"We, therefore, suggest that the States, Union Territories and the Union of India should highlight suggestions for implementation of the programmes and the schemes which might have been formulated, and come out with concrete suggestions in this regard," the bench said.

Senior counsel Anand Grover, appearing for Usha Multipurpose Co-operative Society and Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee, suggested that in order to provide proper rehabilitation, it was necessary to carry out a survey for ascertaining how many sex workers are in its favour.

Amicus curiae Bhushan had submitted a three-point recommendation for "Prevention of trafficking, rehabilitation of sex workers who wish to leave sex work' and conditions conducive for sex workers who wish to continue working as sex workers with dignity."

"These aspects may be studied by the panel and they may make suitable suggestions to the court,the bench said, while constituting the panel.

Pradip Ghosh, senior counsel, will be the chairman of the panel and the other members are Bhushan and representatives from the two organisations.

"All States, union territories and Union of India shall co-operate with this panel so that it can perform the functions effectively. The States and the Central Governments will attend the meetings to be fixed by the Chairman of the Panel from time to time, the bench said.

The apex court said the Centre would allot suitable accommodation and necessary infrastructure for the panel in Delhi and .

It said the panel would initially focus on metros like Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai and Mumbai as the problem of sex workers is more acute and on a much larger scales in these cities.


First Published: Tuesday, July 19, 2011, 21:42

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