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Prostitution is Not an Offence-A B C v The state of Maharashtra

Facts:
The Petitioners were three women, aged 20, 22, and 23 respectively who were caught in a trap laid by the social service branch of Mumbai Police on 19th September 2019 from Chincholi Bunder near Malad. They became victims in connection with a case registered under the Immoral Traffic (Prevention )Act, 1956.

A Metropolitan Magistrate detained them in a women's hostel in Uttar Pradesh as it was found in a  probation report that they were from a particular community "BEDIYA" wherein a custom prevails that a girl, after attaining puberty is sent for prostitution.

Since the guardian has no objection for the victim girls to spend their lives as prostitutes, it would not be safe to hand over the custody to them. The magistrate also outrightly refused to hand over the custody of the three sex workers to their mothers stating that it was not in their best interest.  

Findings:
Bombay High Court set aside the order of the Metropolitan Magistrate and observed that Prostitution is not a criminal offence under the law.  The single bench of Justice Prithviraj K. Chavanobserve that prostitution has not been made an offence under the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956 and that an adult woman has the right to choose her vocation.

There is no provision under the law which makes prostitution per sea criminal offence or punishes a person because he/she indulges in prostitution. What is punishable under the Act is sexual exploitation or abuse of a person for commercial purpose and to earn the bread.

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