HYDERABAD: With the Central government drastically amending several provisions of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) following the gangrape of Nirbhaya in Delhi, the Hyderabad High Court has directed a lower court to take cognizance under Section 370-A against a person, who was booked under Section 4 of the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act. Section 370-A of the IPC recognises a ‘customer’ of a brothel or a person who hires a woman for sexual exploitation as an offender. Justice U Durga Prasad Rao - while dealing with a writ petition filed by one Naveen Kumar seeking to quash proceedings pending against him before the IInd Additional Junior Civil Judge-cum-XIX Metropolitan Magistrate, Kukatpally - prima facie opined that the petitioner was liable to be charged under Section 370-A (exploitation of a trafficked person) though not under Section 4 of the PIT Act (punishment for living on the earnings of prostitution). The petitioner’s counsel argued that Kumar was only a ‘customer’ and not an organizer of a brothel house and hence, couldn’t be charged under Section 4 of the PIT Act.
On the other hand, the public prosector agreed that Section 4 of PIT Act was not maintainable in the case but contended that the petitioner was liable to be charged under Section 370-A. After hearing both the sides and perusing the material on record, Justice Durga Prasad Rao said the petitioner was prima facie liable for charges under Section 370-A. “In my considered view, to secure ends of justice, the High Court can exercise its inherent power to give such direction when the material placed by the prosecution i.e. chargesheet, discloses the commission of offence under Section 370-A IPC”, the judge observed. While quashing the proceedings as prayed by the petitioner, the judge directed the Magistrate concerned to take cognizance under Section 370-A against the accused petitioner and disposed of the case.