Sex customers can be arrested, says High Court

Bombay High Court (HC) observed Thursday arrest of alleged customers of sex workers under Prevention of Immoral Trafficking Act (PITA) cannot be improper. A division bench of justices A M Khanwilkar and R D Dhanuka rejected a PIL by lawyer Prabhanjan Dave to declare illegal arrest and detention of 124 customers after police busted an alleged prostitution racket on October 4.The court also imposed a cost of Rs 25,000 on Dave to be deposited within a week.

The racket was allegedly operating at Simplex Building on Grant Road and about 400 women were rescued in the police raid. Whether arrest of the alleged customers was valid or not will be determined by facts and circumstances of each case and no sweeping presumption could be made for all 124, the court said.

Dave argued most of the arrested were poor labourers and were still in jail as they could not afford to file for bail. He said there was no provision in PITA to treat customers as accused. Advocate general D J Khambata countered PITA did cover arrest of customers. He also questioned maintainability of the petition.

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