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Karnataka High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of K.N. Phaneendra, J. allowed a petition wherein the bench stated that a customer encouraging the services of a prostitute cannot be held liable for any prosecution.

The petition was filed under Section 482 of CrPC in order to quash the entire proceeding in crime registered by the respondent under Section 370 of IPC and Sections 3, 4, 5 and 7 of the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act.

Taking into account the FIR and the respective evidences placed before the Court by the respondent, the only inference that could be drawn was that the petitioner was a ‘customer’ in the brothel house indulged committing prostitution with a lady which was corroborated by the raid conducted by the respondent.

The High Court referred to the case of Goenka Sajan Kumar v. State of A.P., 2014 SCC OnLine Hyd 1192 and a few others, wherein it was stated that, in order to be covered under the ambit of Sections 3, 4, 5 and 7 of the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956, it has to be established that:

  • The petitioner should have lived on the earnings of prostitution.
  • Maintained a brothel house or allowed his premises to be used for the same.
  • Procured, or induced a person for the sake of prostitution.

Further, the High Court concluded by stating its opinions that the customer does virtually encourage prostitution along with exploiting the victim for money, but due to the absence of any specific penal provision, the Court cannot make the petitioner liable for prosecution under the said offences. [Sarvan v. State of Karnataka,2018 SCC OnLine Kar 634, order dated 31-05-2018]