Victim of immoral trafficking has the right to move freely within India; Bombay HC

An adult victim of 22 years was being rescued from a prostitution racket, during a raid conducted by Phandarpur Police under the Immoral Traffic ( Prevention) Act. After being rescued, she along with other eleven victims were sent to correction home in Baramati, Pune by the Magistrate in Phandarpur for a year, the main motive of the court was to allow these victims to forget the atrocities they have been facing and allow them a new beginnings for their lives. The said order was challenged and upheld by Additional Sessions Judge, therefore an appeal was filled challenging the order in the Bombay High Court. The plea was made by a woman who have happened to raise the victim here Respondent no.2 as her own child. In the prayer the woman asked for the custody of that victim.

In the Bombay High Court, a Single Judge Bench consisting of Justice SS Shinde ruled in favor of the prayer made by the woman and hence allowed the appeal. The court while releasing the victim observed that the victim who is an adult cannot be forced to live in a correction home against her wishes. These victims have already faced a lot of difficulties and humiliations for such a long period of time and denying them the right to choose their place of living will be an addition to their ever increasing problems.

The court observed that in India fundamental rights of a person have a much greater value in comparison to the statutory rights. Keeping her away from her place of living would infringe her right to move freely within any part of India i.e infringement of Article 19 of the Indian Constitution.

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Advocate Sh. Satyavrat Joshi appeared from the side of victim and claimed that according to amended Immoral Traffic ( Prevention ) Act allows both the victim and the customer only reformative measures and disallow any penal provisions. To keep her in the correction home against her wishes will be like serving a jail time. Therefore the court allowed the appeal and allowed the victim her liberty to choose whether she wants to continue in the correction home or not. But the court disallowed the petitioner’s claim of custody of the victim as she was not the biological mother of the victim and said it is for the victim to decide where she wants to reside after getting a release from the correction home.