Representative Image.
Representative Image.

Orissa HC drops trafficking charge against brothel customers

The two had challenged charges under sections 370(3), 370 A(2) of IPC

CUTTACK : The Orissa High Court quashed criminal proceedings initiated under sections 370 (3) and 370 A (2) of IPC against two customers at a brothel being run under the guise of a spa in Bhubaneswar.

A single judge bench of Justice Sibo Sankar Mishra, in its February 9 order, said, “It is only when the customer performs his role of procuring the women for another, the offence under section 370 IPC could be employed into action against the customer. In the absence of material that women are trafficked for the purpose of engaging for sexual exploitation, the offence under section 370 A (2) of IPC will not be attracted against the customer.”

The two customers had moved the high court after a trial court took cognisance of charges against them under sections 370 (3) and 370 A (2) of IPC. The charges were framed after registration of a case against them at Capital police station in Bhubaneswar. During a raid conducted at the spa, police found eight young girls, of whom seven were found engaged in sexual activities with as many people.

The two who moved the high court were found engaged in sexual activities with as many girls as customers.

From the case records, the high court found all the girls when confronted said Rs 2,000 each was charged for giving sexual favour to the clients by the manager of the spa. The girls disclosed their identities. On verification of their passports and visa, it was ascertained all of them were adults and from Thailand. None of the sex workers had said they were exploited sexually or abused sexually or they are trafficked.

Taking note of it, Justice Mishra observed, “In the absence of any material on record, the trial court was absolutely wrong in taking cognisance of offences under sections 370(3) and 370A (2) of the IPC against the present petitioners (the two customers).Therefore, I am of the considered view that this is a fit case where this court in exercising the inherent jurisdiction under section 482 CrPC and quash the cognisance order in so far as offences under sections 370 (3) and 370A (2) of IPC against the present petitioners (the two customers) are concerned.”

Section 370 (3) provides for punishment for offence involving the trafficking of a minor, while section 370 A (2) for punishment for a person who knowingly engages a trafficked minor for sexual exploitation in any manner.

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The New Indian Express