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Judges refer PIL on trafficking victims to larger Bench

J. Venkatesan

Apparently, they take their cue from Monday’s verdict


NGO seeks guidelines on rehabilitation

Larger issues are to be decided: Bench


New Delhi: A two-judge Bench of the Supreme Court, dealing with a public interest litigation petition since 2004, has referred the matter to Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan for being posted before a larger Bench. It has apparently taken note of a judgment by Justices A.K. Mathur and Markandey Katju, who on Monday said the judiciary must show restraint.

The Bench, consisting of Justices S. B. Sinha and H.S. Bedi, was hearing the PIL petition filed by a non-governmental organisation, Prajwala, seeking guidelines for rehabilitation of victims of immoral trafficking after “they are rescued from brothel homes.” The court in 2004 issued notice to the Centre and the State governments and the matter was at an advanced stage of hearing.

When it was taken up on Tuesday, Justice Sinha told Solicitor-General G.E. Vahanvati, “In view of yesterday’s [Monday’s] developments which we came to know this morning,” larger issues were to be decided in this case and hence “we are referring it to the CJI.”

(Justices Mathur and Katju said: “… Judges are unjustifiably trying to perform executive or legislative functions. This is clearly unconstitutional.”)

The petitioner submitted that in the country over 23 lakh women and children were trafficked in for commercial sexual exploitation. More than 25 per cent of them were children. Giving details of how poor women and children were lured into the trade on the promise of a better life in cities, the petitioner said, “After the initial rape and the consequent exploitation in slavery-like conditions, the victim starts believing that this is her fate.”

The petitioner pointed out the problems faced by sex workers faced after they were rescued, and sought framing of a Victims Protection Protocol. There should be penal consequences for non-compliance by authorities and it should be made mandatory for the governments to incorporate guidelines on proper rehabilitation of sex workers. These would include putting in place a training-module to sensitise police, judiciary and government personnel involved in the rescue and rehabilitation of victims of trafficking.

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