Voluntary sex not illegal, running brothel is: SC Panel
New Delhi, May 27: The Centre raised in the Supreme Court certain reservations in respect of the recommendations made by the panel that sex workers should not be arrested or penalised as voluntary sex is not illegal and only running a brothel is unlawful.
A Supreme Court appointed panel has recommended several guidelines on the issue. "Whenever there is a raid on any brothel since voluntary sex work is not illegal and only running the brothel is unlawful, the sex workers concerned should not be arrested or penalised or harassed or victimised," the panel said.
"Needless to say, this basic protection of human decency and dignity extends to sex workers and their children, who, bearing the brunt of social stigma attached to their work, are removed to the fringes of the society, deprived of their right to live with dignity and opportunities to provide the same to their children, " the Supreme Court said while replying to reservations by the Centre on certain recommendations made by the panel.
"It need not be gainsaid that notwithstanding the profession, every individual in this the country has a right to a dignified life under Article 21 of the Constitution of India," the court said.
The Centre submitted that it has certain reservations in respect to the recommendations. A Bench comprising Justices L Nageshwara Rao, B R Gavai and A S Bopanna directed the government to file its response within 6 weeks.
"It need not be gainsaid that notwithstanding the profession, every individual in this country has a right to a dignified life under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. The Constitutional protection that is given to all individuals in this country shall be kept in mind by the authorities who have a duty under the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act,1956. The other recommendations that are made by the panel shall be taken up after summer vacation," the SC said.
The court also directed that Aadhar Cards be issued to the sex workers on the basis of a pro forma certificate. There shall be no breach of confidentiality in the process including the assignment of any code in the Aadhar enrolment numbers that identify the cardholder as a sex worker, the SC also said.