KOCHI: The Kerala High Court has observed that a 'customer' in a brothel can be proceeded against criminally under the provisions of section 7 of the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act. Justice Bechu Kurian Thomas issued the order on the petition filed by a native of Ernakulam, the third accused in the case seeking to quash the case.
The prosecution alleged that the first accused had taken a building situated 175 metres away from the Ravipuram Temple at Ernakulam, to conduct an Ayurvedic Hospital and under the cover of the ayurvedic hospital permitted the conduct of prostitution by appointing the second accused as the supervisor and accused four and five for carrying on the prostitution.
The police officer in charge of investigating the case had found that the third accused engaged in a sexual act with accused four and five after paying Rs.500.
The petitioner argued that he had approached the Ayurvedic Hospital for treatment of his back pain and the doctor on duty had prescribed oil massage for a period of thirty days. According to the petitioner, while he was undergoing treatment, the police officers came to the hospital and arrested him and accused four and five, who were the nurses employed at the hospital.
According to the counsel, since the petitioner's alleged conduct as a 'customer' is stated to be offensive, in the absence of the statute including a 'customer' within the scope of the Act, he cannot be roped in as an accused.
The court said that the term prostitution is defined as the sexual exploitation or abuse of persons for commercial purposes. Sexual exploitation cannot be done singularly. The person engaged in the act of exploitation is also a person who falls within the term 'persons with whom such prostitution is carried on.'
In other words, the person who exploits or abuses the prostitute is the person with whom the prostitute carries on prostitution. Thus the act of immoral traffic cannot be perpetrated or carried on without a 'customer'.