The Bombay High Court on 24th September, repealed the judgment made by the lower courts instructing that the adult women to be detained in the Navjeeven Mahila Vastigruha, Deonar , a shelter home, after they were arrested for a crime registered under the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956 (ITPA).
The petitioners were charged under provisions of the ITPA, and were detained for more than a year in the Navjeeven Mahila Vastigruha. The women were represented in the court by Advocate AM Sarogi along with Advocate Siddharth Jaiswal. The state was represented by Additional Public Prosecutor MH Mhatre.
The Metropolitan Magistrate of the Special Court of ITPA, Mazgaon had ordered that the transitional custody of the women is with the shelter home. This order was challenged in Sessions Judge at Dindoshi, who supported the Magistrate’s order. Then the order was challenged in the High Court where it was observed that there was nothing to indicate that the petitioners had indulged in any offence under the ITPA. Moreover, the court mentioned that the Metropolitan Magistrate did not follow the correct procedure under Section 17, ITPA .
The Court explained, “What is punishable under the Act is sexual exploitation or abuse of person for commercial purpose and to earn the bread thereby, except where a person is carrying on prostitution in a public place or when a person is found soliciting or seducing another person.”
The High Court said, “It is equally important to note that the petitioner’s victims are major and, therefore, have a right to reside at the place of their choice, to move freely throughout the territory of India and to choose their own vocation as enshrined in Part III of fundamental rights of the Constitution of India.”
Justice Chavan ordered for their immediate release from the shelter home, if the women wished for the same.