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Customers in brothel can’t be prosecuted for immoral trafficking: Karnataka HC

Written by Shaurya Mahajan

Today, the Karnataka High Court in the case of Babu S v. State reiterated that a customer found in a brothel cannot be prosecuted for offences of immoral trafficking. 

The single bench consisting of Justice M Nagaprasanna allowed the petition, observing that the Court had consistently been of the view that a customer in a brothel cannot be hauled into criminal proceedings.

The petitioner was a customer who was found in a brothel during a raid. 

He was charged for offences under Sections 3 (punishment for keeping a brothel or allowing premises to be used as a brothel), 4 (living on the earnings of prostitution), 5 (procuring, inducing or taking a person for the sake of prostitution) and 6 (detaining a person in premises where prostitution is carried on) of the Immoral Traffic Prevention Act (ITPA) and Section 370 (trafficking of persons) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). 

He approached the Court seeking quashing of the proceedings against him. 

The single-judge bench relied on Barath SP v State of Karnataka,in which the Karnataka High Court considered Section 3, 4, 5 and 6 of the ITPA as well as the offence of trafficking under the IPC to note that none of these provisions can be used against a customer. 

A customer does not keep a brothel or allowing premises to be used as a brothel, live on the earnings of prostitution, procure or induce, etc, the High Court had noted. 

As the facts in both the cases were identical, the Court allowed the petition and quashed the criminal proceedings against the petitioner.

Therefore, the proceeding against the accused was quashed and the court reclarified that criminal proceedings cannot be brought against a customer found in a brothel.  

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