The Bombay High Court may not give the custody of two girls, who were rescued from a bar last year, back to their parents.
A division bench of Justice Ranjana Desai and Justice Mridula Bhatkar on Friday said it feared the girls may be forced back into prostitution.
Shridevi Chhari, a resident of Madhya Pradesh, had moved HC seeking custody of her 20-year-old daughter who was rescued from Baba Palace Bar and Restaurant in Chembur on February 25.
Chhari claimed her daughter was working as a waitress at the restaurant when the police rescued her. Another girl from Madhya Pradesh too was rescued. The police claimed prostitution was going on at the restaurant.
“You (parents) may lose the case, but they will a win life,” said Justice Bhatkar while their advocate M.V. Holmagi argued that the parents had the right to look after their children.
“You have not proved your bonafide. You did not even file a missing compliant and now you want them back. You have failed in your parental duty,” Justice Bhatkar added.
After interviewing the girls in their chamber, Justice Desai said that the girls have expressed a desire to return to their parents.
“We, in our discretion, may not allow them to go. Their future is dear to us and not their transient feeling that they want to go to parents,” said Justice Desai.
Additional public prosecutor Poornima Kantharia said section 44 of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000, which says that a girl can be kept in a rehabilitation centre until she turns 20.
The high court will pass an order on February 1 directing where the girls will be kept. The police had rescued five girls and they have been lodged at Navjeevan Mahila Home in Chembur.
Their lawyer Holmagi argued that the girls were wrongly booked under the Immoral Trafficking (Prevention) Act, as they did not indulge in prostitution. The parents’ petition alleged their daughters were being tortured at the women’s home.