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Sex workers are entitled to all rights available to citizens but cannot claim special treatment for violating the law: Delhi High Court.

Written By- Pretika Tiwari

[Sarika v. State of NCT of Delhi & Ors.]

The single-judge bench of the Delhi High Court, while refusing to grant interim bail to a sex worker, had observed that even though sex workers are entitled to the same rights as other citizens at the same time, they can be held liable if they violate the law. Justice Asha Menon made such observations in the case where a sex worker was accused of trafficking thirteen minor girls who were rescued from her brothel house. She stated, “No doubt, a sex worker is entitled to all rights available to a citizen, but at the same time if she violates the law, she would be subjected to the same consequences under law and cannot claim any special treatment. The applicant has been accused of offences not merely under the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956, but also under Sections 370 IPC (Trafficking of person) and 372 IPC (Selling minor for purposes of prostitution, etc.), which are grave offences.”

The applicant had approached the court seeking interim relief to help her mother after her double knee transplant surgery. According to the applicant’s counsel, the court should grant the applicant at least one week’s release and test her commitment to getting the mother operated on; if not, the applicant would immediately surrender. In addition, he asserted that, except for one prosecutrix, all the others had told the police that they had joined the brothel voluntarily and denied being trafficked.

Ritesh Kumar Bahri, an Additional Public Prosecutor, disagreed with the decision to grant bail, contending that there was a strong probability the applicant would escape and attempt to sway the prosecutrix. He argued that if the bail were approved, the prosecutrix would need to be investigated, and the trial would suffer. The counsel on behalf of the complainant stated that the prosecutrix had already undergone successful rehabilitation; thus, there was a possibility that if the applicant were granted bail, even for a brief period, she would attempt to persuade the prosecutrix. The court denied the interim bail to the applicant and allowed the prosecutrix to testify before the court.

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