MUMBAI: The Bombay High Court has refused to grant the custody of two women, rescued from a prostitution racket and ordered to be kept at a correctional facility, to their relatives, observing that there was a possibility of them indulging in similar activities in future.
Justice S S Shinde on Tuesday dismissed separate petitions filed by two women, claiming to be sisters of the rescued women (aged 25 and 22) and seeking that they be released from the Asha Kiran Mahila Shasakiya Nivas Sthan in Maharashtra's Satara district.
The petitioners challenged the orders of a local magistrate and a sessions court that refused to grant them the custody of the two victims, who were rescued by the police in February from Sangli. One petitioner claimed that her sister (victim) had a seven-year-old child that needed to be looked after.
The other petitioner said her sister would lose her job with a private company if she was not released from the correctional centre. The petitions further claimed that the victims were adults and hence, could take decisions on their own.
The high court in its judgment, however, noted that the magistrate's court, before sending the victims to the correctional centre, conducted a proper inquiry into their family condition and the antecedents of the petitioners, who claimed to be the victims' sisters.
"The trial court observed that if the victims' custody is handed to their sisters, there is a possibility of them indulging in similar activities in future," Justice Shinde said.
"Upon careful perusal of the reasons assigned by both the courts, it can be safely said that the magistrate, keeping in view the interest of the victims, has passed the order sending them to the corrective institution for their care, protection and with a hope of rehabilitation," the high court said.
"In my view, if the custody of the victims is handed over to the petitioner, the possibility of them indulging in similar activities in future cannot be ruled out," Justice Shinde said.
The magistrate had rightly observed that in the interest and welfare of the victims and for their rehabilitation, it was necessary that they stayed at an institution where they could generate means of income and earn their livelihood, the court added.