New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday warned
chief secretaries of all states and union territories that
they will have to appear in person if they fail to apprise the
court of the steps taken by them to rehabilitate sex workers.
Seeking details of various steps for rehabilitation of
sex workers, a bench of justices Markandey Katju and Gyan
Sudha Misra granted the states and union territories time till
July 15 for filing their responses.
If the states/UTs failed to respond by the deadline,
the chief secretaries concerned shall appear in person on July
18, said Justice Katju, who is heading the bench.
The apex court passed the order after senior counsel
and amicus curiae Jayant Bhushan informed the bench that so
far only West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh have filed their
replies while others have failed to do so despite the apex
court`s earlier direction.
The apex court had on February 14 directed the Centre
and various states and UTs to prepare suitable rehabilitation
schemes for welfare of sex workers.
"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
and 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," the bench had said.
The apex court had said the Centre and state governments
through Social Welfare Boards should prepare schemes for
rehabilitation of sex workers.
"We are of the view that 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 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 had said.
The apex court had 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 had appealed in the