The Supreme Court on Thursday clarified its order on the welfare and rehabilitation of sex workers saying its last year’s order should not be construed as supporting flesh trade.
A bench of Justice Altamas Kabir and Justice Gyan Sudha Misra took note of Centre’s objection claiming that the court’s earlier order gave an impression that it sought to legalise prostitution.
On July 19, 2011, a bench of Justice Markandeya Katju and Justice Gyan Sudha Misra had framed terms of reference for a committed constituted by the court to suggest measures to rehabilitate sex workers. One of the references was to provide “condition conducive for sex workers who wish to continue working as sex workers with dignity.”
Allaying the Centre’s fears that it was giving its seal of approval to prostitution, the Bench modified its order as: “conditions conducive for sex workers to work with dignity in accordance with provisions of Article 21 of the Constitution.”
Justice Misra further added to the order: “While we do not wish to encourage sex trade, we would emphasise rehabilitation of sex workers. We wish to add although the sex workers have right to live with dignity, there has to be a collective endeavour by courts and sex workers to give up flesh trade in case they are given alternative platform on employment.”
The bench also stated that sex workers should be given the opportunity to avail of rehabilitation measures.
While adjudicating a criminal appeal filed by a Kolakata-based resident challenging his conviction for murdering a prostitute, the court had last year expanded the scope of the petition saying even sex workers had the right to live with dignity under Article 14 of the Constitution.