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HindustanTimes Sat,19 Apr 2014

Can’t arrest a sex worker’s customer: lawyer to HC

Kanchan Chaudhari, Hindustan Times  Mumbai, November 24, 2012
First Published: 00:45 IST(24/11/2012) | Last Updated: 00:47 IST(24/11/2012)

A lawyer has approached the Bombay high court (HC) contending that it is illegal to arrest the customer of a sex worker.

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The case in question was that of the arrest and subsequent detention of 124 male customers, who were apprehended after a prostitution racket was raided at Grant Road on October 4.

Representing some of the customers, advocate Prabhanjan Dave pointed out that there is no provision under the Prevention of Immoral Trafficking Act (PITA), 1956 under which a customer can be made an accused. Prima facie, the arrest and subsequent detention of the customers was in violation of the law.

At about 8.30pm on October 4, a team of police had raided the Simplex building at Grant Road. During the raid, the police rescued 340 women and arrested 124 male customers and 56 female brothel keepers.

Dave had subsequently filed a public interest litigation (PIL) before the HC. On Friday’s hearing, in addition to questioning the legality of the arrests, Dave was seeking appropriate compensation for the illegal arrest and detention of the customers.

According to Dave, although all 124 customers were apprehended at about 8.45pm on October 4, they were produced in a metropolitan court nearly 45 hours after later, violating the provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code. The law requires police to produce people before a magistrate within 24 hours of their arrest.

“The arrest and illegal detention of the customers seriously encroached upon their freedom, granted to every citizen by virtue of Article 21 of the Constitution of India,” stated the PIL. “In absence of any specific provision under the PITA, they cannot be arrested,” it added.

The PIL also noted that 110 of the 124 apprehended persons were granted bail by a metropolitan magistrate court at Mazgaon on October 10 – six days after the arrest.

Responding to the PIL, advocate general Darius Khambata said the state government was examining the issue and sought some more time.

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