Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: Mangesh S. Patil, J., while upholding the decision of Special Judge elaborated on the Sections of POCSO Act in light of a minor being induced to be involved in the sex trade.

Instant appeal was filed under Section 374 of the Code of Criminal Procedure against the conviction of the appellants for offences punishable under Section 370 read with Section 34 of the Penal Code, 1860, under Section 5 and 6 of the Immoral Traffic Prevention Act (PITA) and under Section 4 read with Section 17 of Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO).

Appellants are mother and daughter.

PW 4 had received information that the appellants were running a brothel.

During the raid conducted, respondent 2 who was then 17 years of age was found in a room with constable Bahirwal. A specified denomination currency note of Rs 500/- was found in possession of the appellant 2. Five to six used condoms and 200 pieces of unused condoms in a packet were found.

Respondent 2 (victim) and appellants were taken to the Police Station for the offences punishable under Section 366A, 370 372 read with Section 34 of the Penal Code, 1860, Section 3, 4,5, 6 and 7 of the PITA and Section 12 and Section 4 read with Section 17 of the POCSO Act.

Further, appellants were acquitted of the offences punishable under Section 366A and 372 of the Penal Code, 1860, of Section 12 of the POCSO Act and Section 7 of the PITA.

Analysis, Law and Decision

Age of the Victim

 Bench observed that when there is ample evidence in the form of school record which duly stands corroborated by the medical age determination test, though the latter is only an approximation, the former being concrete is sufficient to determine and conclude, as has been rightly done by the Special Court that the victim was less than 16 years of age at the relevant time and was, therefore, a child under POCSO Act as also under the PITA.

It was also noted in view of the circumstances and evidence that the victim (PW 1) had apparently willingly succumbed to the sexual exploitation.

Further, at no point of time, the victim seemed to have made any attempt to escape.

Even according to the victim, she was lodged in the house of the appellants for a period of about a month and was subjected to sex twice a day. Not only this but even while narrating the history to the Medical Officer Dr Shahane (PW 6) she disclosed that she was willingly working as a sex worker for a month.

 On noting the fact that she was a child within the meaning of Section 2(d) of the POCSO Act and Section 2(aa) of the PITA, her consent became irrelevant, and it was not a consent in the eye of law.

In view of the provisions of Section 29 of the POCSO Act, a presumption regarding commission of the offences under the Act needed to be raised as has been rightly done by the Special Judge. Appellants miserably failed to displace the burden cast upon them.

Coming to the ingredients for the individual offences for which the appellants have been convicted, so far as Section 370 of the Penal Code is concerned, i.e. for trafficking of person, even if it is concluded that since Shantabai had not been arrayed as an accused and therefore there was no evidence in respect of actual sale by her and purchase by the appellants of the victim on overall appreciation of the evidence it is quite apparent that the victim was induced into trade for the obvious monetary gain which is nothing but a trafficking as defined in Clause Sixthly of Sub Section 1 of Section 370 of the IPC.

As per the provisions of Section 5 and 6 of PITA, the former punishes procurement or inducement or taking a person for the sake of prostitution whereas Section 6 is concerned obviously the victim (PW 1) was detained in the house of the appellants with intent that she may have sexual intercourse with the persons who were not her spouse which is sufficient to constitute the offence.

Turning to the offence punishable under Section 17 read with Section 4 of the POCSO Act, Section 17 provides for punishment for abetment of any offence under the POCSO Act. Whereas Section 4 provides for punishment for penetrative sexual assault. Section 3 defines penetrative sexual assault to mean the different acts provided for therein.

Since the victim was made to succumb to the penetrative sexual assault by various customers and the appellants had induced her into that trade, it could easily be concluded that they committed an offence punishable under Section 17 and were rightly convicted and sentenced by the Special Judge.

Therefore, no illegality was found in the impugned judgment and order convicting and sentencing the appellants.

In view of the above discussion, appeal was dismissed. [Sunita v. State of Maharashtra, 2021 SCC OnLine Bom 1631, decided on 9-08-2021]


Advocates before the Court:

Advocate for the Appellants: Mr Aniket Vagal.

APP for Respondent No. 1/State: Mr S. N. Morampalle.

Advocate for Respondent 2: Mrs Rashmi S. Kulkarni.

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madhya Pradesh High Court: Rajendra Kumar Srivastava, J., quashed the charge under Section 370 IPC framed against the petitioner.

On receiving information about the act of Prostitution being carried on, police reached the place and found that the accused/petitioner was involved in the prostitution activities with another co-accused.

Accused/petitioner and other co-accused were arrested, FIR was lodged under Section 370 read with Section 34 of Penal Code, 1860 and Sections, 3, 4, 5, 6 of Immoral Trafficking (Prevention) Act, 1956.

Additional Sessions Judge framed the charge against the accused/petitioner under Section 370(2) of IPC.

Petitioners counsel submitted that the Court below committed gross error of law in framing charge against accused/petitioner.

As per the prosecution story, accused/petitioner was caught in a suspicion condition while doing prostitution.

Thus, as per the prosecution case itself present accused/petitioner was not involved in trafficking of person rather she has been subjected to the trafficking for the purpose enshrined under Section 370(1) of IPC. In such circumstance, no charge can be framed against the accused/petitioner under Section 370(2) of IPC.

Analysis and Decision

Section 370(1) of IPC provides exploitation of threats, using force or any other form of coercion, abduction or practising fraud or deception, abuse of power by inducement, inducement including the giving or receiving of payments or benefits, in order to achieve the consent of any person having control over the person recruited, transported, harboured, transferred or received, commits the offence of trafficking.

Further the Court observed that, admittedly, accused/petitioner is a lady and she cannot be considered to be exploiting herself, so as to bring her within the ambit of Section 370.

In fact, she is the person who would be considered as being exploited under Section 370 of IPC.

Court relied on the Gujarat High Court Judgment Vinod v. State of Gujarat, 2017 SCCOnline Guj 446, wherein the Gujarat High Court had referred to clarification by Justice Verma Committee:

Members of the Committee wish to clarify that the thrust of their intention behind recommending the amendment to Section 370 was to protect women and children from being trafficked. The Committee has not intended to bring within the ambit of the amended Section 370 sex workers who practice of their own volition. It is also clarified that the recast Section 370 ought not to be interpreted to permit law-enforcement agencies to harass sex workers who undertake activities HC-NIC Page 14 of 24 Created On Sat May 06 01:34:48 IST 2017 of their own free will, and their clients. The Committee hopes that law enforcement agencies will enforce the amended Section 370, IPC, in letter and in spirit.

We request you to clarify that your intention was not to criminalize the lives of sex-workers but rather to criminalize only those who ‘exploit the prostitution of others’ i.e. traffickers in persons.

Thus, High Court on perusal of the above held that, charge under Section 370 of IPC has been erroneously framed against the accused/petitioner since she is herself an exploited person as per Section 370 of IPC.

Hence, accused/petitioner be discharged forthwith. [X v. State of M.P., 2020 SCC OnLine MP 1079 , decided on 20-05-2020]

Patna High Court
Case BriefsHigh Courts

Patna High Court: The Bench of Ahsanuddin Amanullah, J. dismissed a hotel owner’s petition assailing dismissal of the application for his discharge, holding that since couples were found in semi-naked condition in hotel rooms adjacent to petitioner’s room, it was a matter requiring a complete trial.

A case of immoral trafficking was registered against the petitioner, pursuant to which he filed an application for discharge under Sections 227 and 228 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. The said application was rejected by the Magistrate. Hence, the instant petition was filed under Section 482 CrPC.

Learned counsel for the petitioner, Mr Shri Prakash Srivastava, submitted that as per Section 15 of the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956 only a special police officer is empowered to search without a warrant. Since the raid at petitioner’s hotel was not conducted by a special police officer, the whole search was vitiated in law and no criminal prosecution based on the same was permissible. Further, no medical examination was done on the couples produced before the Magistrate to establish any scientific evidence relating to there being immoral trafficking.

Learned counsel for the respondent, Mr Pramod Kumar, submitted that the raid was conducted in presence of Additional/Assistant Superintendent of Police who is notified as a ‘special police officer’ under the Act. Further, Section 15(5-A) of the Act provides for examination by a registered medical practitioner only for the purposes of determination of age, or detection of any injuries. Lastly, the petitioner, being the owner, was in the room adjacent to rooms where couples were recovered in semi-naked condition and, thus, he could not take the plea of innocence or ignorance.

The Court opined that no legal provision had been violated. Petitioner being the owner of hotel, and being present in the room adjacent to rooms from where couples were found in semi-naked condition, at this stage, could not be said to be innocent. Thus, the petition was dismissed holding that a full-fledged trial was required in the matter.[Sudhir Kumar v. State of Bihar, 2019 SCC OnLine Pat 289, Order dated 06-03-2019]